Saturday, September 30, 2023

Hakawatis (Episode 36)

I stumbled on this podcast featuring Hannah when I was looking for something else. If I leave it dangling - hiding in plain site - here, perhaps I will remember to listen to it the next time I am on a long enough drive.

Friday, September 29, 2023

'One has a right to Bunbury anywhere one chooses.'

As of Tuesday all l I had in the showbiz diary next week was ABBA Voyage (Icons passim) on Saturday.

Wednesday morning Ria invited me, via Facebook, to The Brief Life & Mysterious Death of Boris III, King of Bulgaria at the Arcola on Friday.

Wednesday evening, Vera invited me, via Telegram, to The Importance of Being Earnest at the Chelsea Theatre on Wednesday.

Yesterday, Mia my neice WhatsApped ' I have an audition on 2nd October in London and am coming back from Nepal - I was wondering if I could stay with you for a night?'

Mi casa, su casa.  The smell of greasepaint, the roar of the crowd.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Pendant Bail

Deep breath, at the second time of asking, my PICKRING Eye-Shaped Guitar Pick Holder Necklace Storage Pendant has arrived from the USA. The first one was lost in transit.

Jane has said she can use her jewellery skills, along with magical things called pendant bails, to arrange it, and the other 'objects of power' I habitually wear around my neck, so that they are separated rather than all clumped together at the top of my sternum. I arranged them and took a photo for her by way of illustration.

The gold crucifix in the middle was given to me by mum and dad on my 21st birthday. I like the way that the plectrum in the guitar pick pendant underneath it looks like stained glass.

To the left is a Moslem Sufi winged heart; to the right a Zen Buddhist Ensō. Reminders both that there is so little wisdom in the world that we should take it wherever we can find it.

I used also to wear a silver plectrum illustrated with a Hindu aum, as well as the masks of tragedy and comedy but I lost them in Bronwydd Avenue. They are honoured in absentia here as a nod to time, fate and change.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

This show will run and run.

An appointment is now booked for you as shown below.

Date: Thursday 28 September 2023 at 9:00 am

Clinic: 2WW Gastroenterology (Triage Service) University Hospital - RJ7

Note: This is a telephone/video appointment, you do not need to go to the clinic.

During the telephone assessment the Clinical Nurse Specialist will decide which diagnostic test is most suitable based on referral information. These include:

  • colonoscopy
  • flexible sigmoidoscopy or
  • CT colonography

This test date/time will be agreed with the patient over the phone during the telephone assessment and they will be given instructions re: light diet & bowel prep. This test will be carried out within 14 working days.

Now you know as much as I do. Watch this space.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The more things change...

The new establishment has taken leave of what passes for its senses over the last day or two, with the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police all but competing to see who can placate the Scotland Yard officers who handed in their weapons following a force marksman being charged with murder the most cravenly.

The decision about the charge followed an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). These are the official bodies whose role it is to hold the force and its officers to account. I don't have any knowledge of, or insight into, the shooting of Chris Kaba but is it being suggested that the IOPC and CPS aren't performing their duties diligently? If not let justice follow its course.

A note on context: The largest armed police unit in the UK is the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection, in which Wayne Couzens and David Carrick served.

David Carrick joined the Met in 2001 and was selected in 2009 to carry a gun and guard parliamentary and diplomatic sites.

In sentencing him for 85 serious offences during 17-year campaign of terror and attacks against women, the judge noted that in one attack – the first he was sentenced for – he told a woman she was safe with him because he was a police officer, before raping her while holding a firearm to her head. In other attacks, he used police-issue handcuffs to restrain the women, and sent a photo of his police gun to another, warning her: “Remember I’m the boss.”

Wayne Couzens used his handcuffs in the abduction of Sarah Everard. Is it seriously being suggested, under pressure from armed police that there are no longer systemic problems with them?

Just join the dots Sir Mark, mate. It ain't all that difficult. A fortnight ago (a fortnight!), you were saying just the opposite. What changed?

Monday, September 25, 2023

Wales 40-6 Australia

Sometimes comment is superfluous.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

I Loves The 'Diff

1. Shirley Road (Icons passim) with Sean on Friday evening with Sean followed by dinner at Lake Spice. This will probably be our last Cardiff Street Art jaunt of the year as I only get back from London once a month or so and the nights are drawing in. Whispering walls; Shirley Road has got its own YouTube channel at

2. 'Check tyre pressures' said the car's on board computer on Saturday, putting me in something of a quandary as I was busy all day with family stuff and have  drive back to Hammersmith first thing this morning. and the man who wouldn't take any money. Dean of First Response Tyres came round, sorted me out and refused to take any money because no parts were required, and I'd paid him for and to fit a new tyre the time before last when I was back.
O brave new world, That has such people in't.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

“Dance first. Think later. It's the natural order.”

Prodnose: The title above is one of these secret message things I suppose, intelligible to a select coterie, possibly resonant for you when revisited in some tranquil future, yet opaque to the great unwashed? 

Myself (settling into armchair and lighting pipe): It could be. Unless of course, rather than a reference to my circumstances, it is reminding us that a new film 'Dance First', directed by James Marsh and starring Gabriel Byrne as Samuel Beckett will be with us on November the third.

ESTRAGON: Il pourrait peut-ȇtre danser d'abord et penser ensuite? Si ce n'est pas trop lui demander.
VLADIMIR [à Pozzo]: Est-ce possible?
POZZO: Mais certainement, rien de plus facile. C'est d'ailleur l'ordre naturel. [Rire bref.]

Myself: But Beckett himself renders it in English as follows:

ESTRAGON: Perhaps he could dance first and think afterwards, if it isn’t too much to ask him
VLADIMIR [to Pozzo]: Would that be possible?
POZZO: By all means, nothing simpler. It’s the natural order. [He laughs briefly.]

Prodnose: Someone comes along, and scoops the first phrase out of its deontic modality (which the infinitive prevents one from doing in the French). Thus reduced to the imperative mood, it is paired it with the second phrase and a shitty Beckett-as-Fred-Astaire quote is born.

Myself: Yes. “Dance first. Think later. It's the natural order.” as an arch reference to my life is already reduced to a mistranslation; a forgotten redaction. You are putty in my hands.


Looking through my old version (Icons passim) of the panache speech from Cryano I noticed I was a vowel short in the penultimate line. Thus, given my mood, it has had a little rejig to emphasise my defiance.

What now? It is not practical I know.

To cast a loaded dice for one more throw.

No, no; a beautiful, a hopeless stand

What is this horde? I shall not stay my hand.

I know you now, old foes, old enemies!

Dissembling, Prejudice and Treacheries!

Deception! Here's my sword's point, ask no truce.

I fight and will die fighting. No excuse.

Take what you will, you send me to repose

Beyond the prize, the laurel and the rose.

You've done your worst and yet I still retain,

Respect you cannot strip me of or stain.

And when I leave tonight to meet my Lord

If heaven's azure vault's not my reward,

And all I left behind on earth was ash.

Despite you all I kept, and keep still my .... panache!

Friday, September 22, 2023

Quantum poetics

How Borges and Heisenberg converged on the notion that language both enables and interferes with our grasp of reality
This is a terrific article with wide potential applicability. The Rigor of Angels; Borges, Heisenberg, Kant, and the Ultimate Nature of Reality by William Egginton is already in the running for next month's Audible credit.

Indeed, William Egginton seems like an interesting fella in general.

I am going to Cardiff this afternoon so I will see Sean this evening. I am pretty sure that Funes the Memorious, the short story by Jorge Luis Borges that the first part of Quantum poetics devotes itself to also features in his Authorship: From Plato to the Postmodern - A Reader, but I am too lazy to check just now.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Politics on the Edge: A Memoir from Within

From the former Conservative Cabinet minister and co-presenter of 2022's breakout hit podcast The Rest is Politics, a searing insider's account of ten extraordinary years in Parliament

Over the course of a decade from 2010, Rory Stewart went from being a political outsider to standing for prime minister - before being sacked from a Conservative Party that he had come to barely recognise.

Tackling ministerial briefs on flood response and prison violence, engaging with conflict and poverty abroad as a foreign minister, and Brexit as a Cabinet minister, Stewart learned first-hand how profoundly hollow and inadequate our democracy and government had become. Cronyism, ignorance and sheer incompetence ran rampant. Around him, individual politicians laid the foundations for the political and economic chaos of today.

Stewart emerged battered but with a profound affection for his constituency of Penrith and the Border, and a deep direct insight into the era of populism and global conflict.

Politics On the Edge invites us into the mind of one of the most interesting actors on the British political stage. Uncompromising, candid and darkly humorous, this is his story of the challenges, absurdities and realities of political life; a new classic of political memoir and a remarkable portrait of our age.

This month's Audible credit has gone on the new book by Rory Stewart; WBI man crush - (see Icons passim) for twelve years now.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

One for the bucket list

Did you know that there exists a remarkable walking route spanning the globe? Starting from Cape Town in South Africa and culminating in Magadan, Russia, it presents the longest continuous distance that can be covered on foot without crossing any oceans.

This extraordinary journey covers a staggering distance of 21,808 kilometers. To complete this awe-inspiring trek, one would need to dedicate approximately 4,492 hours of non-stop walking, which equates to an astounding 187 days of continuous movement.

Hat tip: African Hub

Wow! About that holiday?

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Schadenfreude. I like it!

Daily Star
Chelsea chief Todd Boehly told to bid £80m for Callum Hudson-Odoi after Forest rocket 
Callum Hudson-Odoi has found the net in his debut for Nottingham Forest on Monday evening - and cheeky Chelsea fans have suggested Todd Boehly should bid £80million for him
Cheeky football fans have told Todd Boehly to bid £80million for ex-Chelsea star Callum Hudson-Odoi following his wondergoal against Burnley.

Nottingham Forest were chasing the game at the City Ground as Steve Copper's side started to crank up the pressure against the Clarets - leading to a ball being lumped in the direction of Taiwo Awoniyi.

Awoniyi chested the ball down to Hudson-Odoi, who skipped past one defender and let fly with a wonder strike that dipped into the far corner of the goal.

"Chelsea should really look into signing this Hudson-Odoi fella," one fan joked. While a second shared on social media: "Chelsea are gonna buy back Hudson-Odoi for £80m after that goal!"

"Paying £88.5m for Mudryk and only getting £3m for Hudson-Odoi, who's still only 22? Todd Boehly is a criminal," a third said. And another added: "Chelsea could do with Hudson-Odoi!"

Form is temporary but class is permanent.

Possibly it is an ugly sentiment revealing an unpleasant side of my personality but I hope walking omnishambles Todd D’oh!ly feels as bad as I feel good today.

Welcome to Collywood where we believe in ourselves and our own.

Monday, September 18, 2023

The 7 Constructive Faces (of Gareth the Karmic Rugby Gnome)

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision, referee.

Canedo (Icons passim) turned out to be an inspired choice of venue on Saturday for Welsh and Welsh-connected Collywooders, even if like Shona's Chris they live in Adelaide, to watch the Wales Portugal Pool C World Cup rugby game. Thanks to hosts Alberto and Marietta, and to their largely Portuguese clientele for good-hearted banter. Both you and your team are credits to your nation.
Portugal are nicknamed ‘Os Lobos’, or The Wolves, and while Wales kept them from the door in Nice, Patrice Lagisquet’s team delivered a joyous display that captured the intoxicating potential of underdogs at World Cups.
There were three venues at Jonnie H's birthday BBQ yesterday; the garden for the barbecue itself, the kitchen/dining room for the footie (Chelsea then Arsenal), and the front room for the rugby.

I was in the latter to see  Fiji produced the result of the World Cup so far, beating Australia to put the cat amongst the pigeons in Wales' group.

Having secured 10 points from a possible 10, Wales are sitting pretty at the top of the table; our fate totally in our hands. But Australia v Fiji was always going to affect what Wales could get away with in their remaining fixtures, against the Aussies and Georgia.

For all that we revelled in a Fijian victory, an Australian win over Fiji would, in a way, have made things more straightforward. Had Fiji lost in Saint-Etienne, then Wales would have known that a victory over Georgia would have been enough for a quarter-final place, taking some of the pressure off next Sunday's clash with the Wallabies.

As it turns out, there is still a three-way shootout unfolding at the top of Pool C,  Wales need something against Australia and Georgia in their final two games. Currently, we sit top of the pool with 10 points and the other two trailing on six. Because Fiji won yesterday, they sit in second place with the Aussies third.

Now, if Wales beat Australia next week, the Wallabies will be out, and we will be in the quarter finals, but if Warren Gatland's side to lose to the Wallabies in Lyon, then we could have a situation where each of the top three teams - Wales, Fiji and Australia - will be heading into the final round of matches having lost one match each, making things very interesting.

Interesting is not good. I will be in Cardiff at the weekend visiting mum. With any luck I will get to watch the game with a sibling or two.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Greenaway, Myrtle, 1919–2002

Going to Mass in Eire 1951
'My AR teacher' said a mysterious email I got from PG in the week about the URL

Clarification arrived over a flat white in the Plum Café this morning, Myrtle Greenway taught him art at St. Illtyd's and was "the best teacher I ever had" despite his having no real talent for drawing. An interesting, at least to me, parallel with this antediluvian icon passim.

He copied an exercise she gave them in class - when each pupil recreated a fragment of a work (Gaugin in his case?) on a sheet of drawing paper before the sheets were reassembled on the wall as a tribute to the original - in working with the children of the community when he opened the Riverside Arts Centre.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

What'd I Say, Pt. 1

Oops! It has been brought to my attention that corpora is the plural of corpus.
An illustrative extract of my question for Sir Nigel Shadbolt, and his answer at the AI conference on May 31st (passim) move their slow thighs above. YouTube clips, which are are between 5-60 seconds long and are played on a loop from the original video's watch page, are fiddly things to set up and can be confusing to watch - gives a better idea of the exchange.

The Chat GPT and Other Creative Rivals recording only became available to view yesterday.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Who's in Backstairs Billy? Fnarr fnarr!

Helen and I took PG out last night for a birthday dinner, or as the day itself was actually Thursday last week, the closing event of the 2013 Peter Gill Festival. We learned that lunch with Penelope Wilton and her sister was also part of the festival and that the occasion when he met Kylie - who he has long held up as an example of a pleasant, well adjusted celebrity - was when she came to see Luke Evans, who had worked with her musically, in Small Change. Both of which bring us neatly back to Backstairs Billy (Icons passim).

"If you two old queens have finished bickering, this old queen would like a G&T."
Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother (attrib.) to members of her famously camp household.
Wilton plays the Queen Mother and Evans her loyal butler in the new play

The Michael Grandage Company has revealed the complete cast for the world premiere of Marcelo Dos Santos’ play Backstairs Billy, exploring a significant moment in the 50-year relationship between the Queen Mother and her loyal servant, William “Billy” Tallon.

Joining previously announced Penelope Wilton as the Queen Mother and Luke Evans as Billy are Emily Barber (Annabel Maud/Lady Astlebury) who reunites with Evans after The Alienist, Iwan Davies (Gwydion), Ian Drysdale (Kerr), Ilan Galkoff (Young Billy), Eloka Ivo (Ian), Michael Simkins (Mr Harrington-Bahr/Hugo McCoyd), Nicole Sloane (Mrs Harrington-Bahr/Lady Adeline), with David Buttle, Amy Newton, Keanu Adolphus Johnson, Georgie Rhys, and Jacob Ethan Tanner.

Michael Grandage’s production is set to open at the Duke of York’s Theatre on November 7, with previews starting on October 27 and running until January 27. In line with the company’s ongoing commitment to accessibility in the West End, £10 tickets will be available for every performance throughout the run.

The production marks a reunion between Grandage and Wilton, who previously collaborated on productions including The Chalk Garden, John Gabriel Borkman, and Hamlet. Additionally Evans performed twice at the Donmar during Grandage’s artistic directorship, in Small Change and Piaf. Dos Santos was a recipient of the MGCfutures Bursary in 2019, a charity established by Grandage to support various aspects of the theater industry. Following their introduction through the bursary program, MGC commissioned Dos Santos to write Backstairs Billy.

The creative team also includes set designer Christopher Oram, costume designers Oram and Tom Rand, lighting designer Ryan Day, music and sound designer Adam Cork, wigs, hair & makeup designer Carole Hancock, casting director Jacob Sparrow, associate director Sophie Drake, and costume supervisor Mary Charlton.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Part 3)

I came across this yesterday and it is on the level.

All three Godfather films are available to stream for free in Ireland and the UK.

The Godfather Trilogy, one of the - if not the - best trilogies ever, is available to stream all in one place in Ireland and the UK for free.


So, for those who have never seen the trilogy before or for those who would just like to revisit it, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II and The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone are all streaming for free on Channel 4's website now for Irish and UK viewers.

For all that I have got a DVD boxed set somewhere, and the operative word IS somewhere because I can't seem to locate it, I am up for bingeing on this and recommend it to you. I was delighted to see this morning that the Channel 4 app is already installed and set up on my Amazon Fire TV stick.

That's right, I'm making you an offer you can't refuse.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Forgive these wild and wandering cries


Andy Casey: Life support for punched man can end - High Court

Doctors can lawfully withdraw life-support treatment from a man who suffered a brain injury during a pub fight, a High Court judge has ruled.

The family of Andy Casey, 20, of Mitcham, south-west London, had appealed for treatment to be continued.

Specialists say his brain-stem function has died and he is therefore dead.

Mr Casey's sister, Christine Casey, told the judge she did not believe he was brain-stem dead and said after the ruling: "I am so angry."

Mr Justice MacDonald said he agreed with a medical assessment, at a private court hearing on Friday.

St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust bosses responsible for Mr Casey's care had asked the judge to rule that treatment could lawfully end by withdrawing ventilation.

Relatives wanted treatment to continue, saying they had seen movement and signs of life.

Barrister Abid Mahmood said brain-stem testing by two specialists had shown that Mr Casey was dead.

"This is a tragic matter whereby the trust seeks a declaration that very sadly Andy's brain-stem function has died and that thereby he has died," Mr Mahmood told the judge.

"The trust seeks an order that it is lawful for the trust to cease artificial ventilation and care that Andy currently receives."

Mr Mahmood told the judge in a written case outline that Mr Casey had been involved in a fight in a pub garden on 9 July and had been "punched to the head" and "fell to the ground".

He said specialists had declared that Mr Casey had died on 16 July.

The judge heard that Mr Casey had remained on a ventilator since being injured.

"Whilst I understand fully the conclusions that the family and friends of Mr Casey have, in their sorrow, drawn from his movements and apparent responses to the ventilator, having regard to the totality of evidence before the court, I am also satisfied that what the family are seeing are in fact well-recognised base reflexes that can survive brain stem death," said Mr Justice MacDonald in a written ruling.

"Cruelly, the flattering voice of hope convinces those that love Mr Casey that these are signs that Mr Casey is not dead.

"With regret, I am satisfied that the brain stem testing undertaken... demonstrate(s) that he is."

He added: "I understand that this will come as a bitter disappointment to Mr Casey's family and friends."

The judge offered his "profound sympathy" to Mr Casey's family.

Ben's making his was up to Leeds today, for his last exam on Thursday. He sent me the BBC article above yesterday. I make no apology for reproducing it in full. Andy Casey, an acquaintance of his, was the boy injured in the Abbey Mills punch-up, (yards from where I sit in my office as I type.

See Icons passim.


Tuesday, September 12, 2023

{Anthro-pology <

I was out at the Hampstead Theatre last night. Let's get the important things out of the way first.

  1. Arabesque, as recommended by Mia, is a great place to eat before watching a play there. They have no problem, for example, in you settling the bill early then chatting and drinking until it is time to leave and walk, without further fuss, around the corner to see the show.
  2. Jubilee Line from Swiss Cottage to Waterloo, then the Northern Line to Colliers Wood. Hampstead Theatre joins the exclusive group of theatres I can get back home from on the Tube in time to have a pint in the Royal Standard.

The play is called {Anthro-pology <. I didn't have any very high hopes for it to be honest, which I know sounds ridiculous as I did buy tickets, but having spent a lot of time studying generative AI and large language models I was intrigued to see what a contemporary dramatist would come up with. Lauren Gunderson, her director, cast and crew didn't let me down. It is a terrific piece of work; entertaining and thought provoking.

Have this as an example of roundabout praise for it. I went to the Chat GPT and Other Creative Rivals | Institute of Philosophy ( conference on 31 May and 1 June. Geoffrey Hinton (profiled in the essay 'A Potential Threat to Humanity' in ANTHROPOPLY's programme) contributed the, snappily titled 'Qualia are the phlogiston of cognitive science' to the proceedings. 'Oh goody,' I hear you cry.

Watching Myanna Buring as Merril, the protagonist, last night though reminded me irresistibly of  Deepmind's Jackie Kay who gave us 'Embodiment, Intelligence, and the Alien Creativity of Large Generative Models' at the same conference. The persona, the body language, the slightly eccentric phrase construction could have been the same person. 

High achievements, say I, in writing, direction and performance. Guess they succeeded in what they set out to do.

Monday, September 11, 2023

A Day in the Life

A busy, but enjoyable Sunday yesterday.

  • I went to Hammersmith to take PG shopping and chew the fat over a few coffees in the Plum Cafe. (Catholic theology and drama.)
  • Stopped at the gym on the way home for half an hour's cardio. (The Crucifixion Considered As An Uphill Bicycle Race" by Alfred Jarry.)
  • Stopped back home for a couple of hours journaling. (In the scriptorium.)
  • Saw The Equalizer 3 with my son and his mother in the Wimbledon Odeon. (Catholic iconography and blood curdling violence.)
  • Dinner for three at Wahaca; Jane told me I was losing too much weight. (Charles Borromeo: Patron Saint of stomach ailments, dieting and obesity.)
  • To the Royal Standard with Ben to see Wales hold on against a thrilling Fijian fightback for a bonus point win in the Rugby World Cup; we conceded 12 points in the remaining 20 minutes and almost lost the game entirely when Semi Radrada looked for all the world like he would score. (Someone should have been hearing confessions in the changing room after the final whistle went in light of the last quarter of the game.)

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Colcannon & Black Pudding Pasties

As I sat nursing a Stella in the, none-more-Irish, Royal Standard watching the second half of Ireland 82-8 Romania in the 2023 Rugby World Cup yesterday, my 98% Irish DNA sniffed the evening and was glad. Neuron spoke unto neuron and my fevered imagination conjured up another use for the blood sausage Pat Reilly recently brought me back from the Emerald Isle: Colcannon & Black Pudding Pasties.
Peel potatoes, cube them, boil in water with a pinch of salt for about 12 minutes and drain.

Prepare kale by trimming and discarding the tough stalks. Tear it into bite-size pieces. Wash it well and drain.

Heat the butter in a large pan or cast iron skillet and add the drained kale and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Stir and cook until wilted. This will take around 3 minutes - then add lemon juice and a generous amount of fresh ground pepper.

Set aside and slowly brown some onions in the same pan.

Cube your black pudding slightly smaller than the spuds.

Once cooled, combine all your filling ingredients.

Divide a block of store bought shortcrust pastry into 7″ discs and add filling to the centre of each before bringing up its sides to meet over the filling, pressing the edges firmly together to seal.

Knock up the edges with a sharp knife, turn the pasty at right angles to you and crimp the knocked up edge using your thumb and forefinger then brush with beaten egg and repeat with all remaining ingredients.

Bake for half an hour or so.
At the moment they are theoretical but I may try some out on folk at next Sunday's barbecue.

Saturday, September 09, 2023

Allez Les Blues, Les Boos, Les Booze

Schadenfreude's a German word I'll grant you, but still the mot juste, my French friends, for how I felt yesterday when all your compatriots in the Stade de France started giving President Macron the bird at the Rugby World Cup opening ceremony yesterday.

The consensus on this side of the channel seems to be that it was because citizens are still angry about controversial pension reforms, but I - perhaps being over optimistic about the public's interest in a wider world - wonder.

The Spectacularlyboring:
How Africa turned on France
Repeated humiliations at the hands of its ex-colonies are tarnishing France’s international image
On Wednesday last week, a new Gabonese military junta installed itself, having ousted President Ali Bongo, whose family have ruled the country since 1967. Just two days earlier, the French president Emmanuel Macron gave a speech to his ambassadors in which he spoke of an “epidemic of putschs” in what was formerly France’s greatest sphere of post-colonial influence.

Although most of these states have been independent for decades, Paris kept them firmly in the French orbit

There have now been six coups d’état in francophone sub-Saharan Africa in three years — Mali, Chad, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger and now the small but wealthy nation of Gabon. France’s whole African policy is on the skids and there will be trepidation in other presidential palaces, such as those of ninety-year-old Paul Biya in Cameroon and seventy-nine-year-old Denis Sassou Nguesso in Congo.

What Macron did not say was that a common feature of most of these overthrows has been anti-French sentiment. Nor did anyone expect him to acknowledge what is stated widely: that this is the end of Françafrique and with it the long-delayed end of France’s imperial adventure.

Although most of these francophone states have been independent for decades, Paris managed to keep them firmly in the French orbit. The benefits were substantial on both sides. Largely corrupt regimes saw their leaders, family and descendants maintained in power by benevolent French diplomatic, financial and military agreements. African leaders could siphon off wealth to French banks and property investments, access high-level Parisian medical facilities, and remain confident of their invulnerability because of the presence of French troop garrisons.

Friday, September 08, 2023

You know you've made it when ......

........ your birthday is in the Grauniard. Nice darts Peter Gill, director and playwright, 84.

Thursday, September 07, 2023

He's quite wily, like his old man.

I insisted that the son and heir came round last night for me to give him his Apple iPhone 14 Pro. I might as well see what all that money went on. It seems an extraordinary coincidence that, for as long as I can remember, his mobile phone contracts have been arranged so that they expire just before his birthday. What are the chances of that happening (1) eh?

Sunday afternoon and evening is going to be unexpectedly busy for the family. He, his mother and I have one of our bi-monthly Movie/Mexican Mash-Ups long scheduled. Equalizer 3, 15:40 at the Wimbledon Odeon followed by Wahaca around six.

What I hadn't factored in when I put this together was that Wales are playing Fiji in the Rugby World Cup at 8pm, so the Bomber and I have agreed that we will high-tail it back to the 'Wood to watch that in the Royal Standard. (Jane is welcome, but if she comes with us to an Irish pub to watch sport, I will eat my hat.)

1. Cinéma vérité

Scott Evil: I just think, like, he hates me. I really think he wants to kill me.

Therapist: He doesn't really want to kill you. Sometimes we just say that.

Dr. Evil: No actually the boy is quite astute. I really am trying to kill him, but so far unsuccessfully. He's quite wily, like his old man.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Paapa's Got a Brand New Bag of Spanners (1)

The Spectator : 26 August 2023: Absolute stinker of a review, for all that it is funny,  for 'The Effect' at the NT.  It's by someone called Lloyd Evans. I am glad I didn't book tickets now, and feel less alone as as Jamie Lloyd sceptic.

Two very long hours: The Effect, at the Lyttelton Theatre, reviewed

Lucy Prebble belongs to the posse of scribblers responsible for the HBO hit, Succession. Perhaps in honour of this distinction, her 2012 play, The Effect, has been revived at the National by master-director Jamie Lloyd. The show is a sitcom set in Britain’s most dysfunctional drug-testing facility where two sexy young volunteers, Tristan and Connie, are fed an experimental love potion that may help medics to find a cure for narcissists suffering from depression. Running the experiment are two weird boffins, Professor Brainstorm and Nurse Snooty, who once enjoyed a fling at a conference and whose lust is not entirely extinct. But Nurse Snooty is playing hard to get. ‘Sometimes,’ she tells the Professor, ‘I feel I’m dead but my body hasn’t caught up yet.’ The Professor, a psychiatrist by trade, fails to spot the negative signals here and continues to bombard her with lecherous suggestions.

Meanwhile, in the mixed-sex ward, Tristan and Connie are flirting like mad even though they have nothing in common. She’s a feminist psychology student who likes older professional academics. He’s a penniless half-wit from east London who makes a living by volunteering for medical trials. Yet Connie seems mysteriously smitten with this talentless creep even though he mocks her accent and mannerisms. And she encourages his mistreatment by tittering uncontrollably at his jibes.

To explain her nervous giggles she spouts antique psychological platitudes. ‘Female laughter is a show of submission,’ she says. Since the two lovebirds have swallowed a medical aphrodisiac, their flirtation owes more to pharmacology than to desire and this makes the romance feel contrived and half-cooked.

One night, they break out of the facility and climb the roof of a nearby mental asylum where they continue to flirt by practising ballet twirls and break-dancing. When Nurse Snooty catches them, she delivers a stern warning that sexual congress is strictly forbidden under the terms of their contract. Fair enough, they nod meekly. They promptly dash back to the mixed-sex ward for an eight-hour session of raucous lovemaking which Nurse Snooty and Professor Brainstorm somehow fail to detect. The dottiness of this caper has only just begun. Nurse Snooty takes Connie aside for a girly chat and tells her that placebos are often used in medical trials. Connie gets the hint. Their mutual feelings may not be genuine. Nurse Snooty goes further and tells Connie that she has taken the placebo while Tristan is high on the psychoactive love-potion. Dramatically this makes the story more interesting – but logically it’s senseless. Why would Nurse Snooty endanger the experiment – and her career – by revealing secret data to a volunteer? Answer: the play needs a plot and anything will do. The story grinds towards a lamely predictable conclusion after two long hours.

Jamie Lloyd accompanies the action with non-stop industrial thumping and grinding noises which sound like elevator equipment being tested in a nearby warehouse. The overhead lighting-rig showers the darkened stage with white discs and oblongs of brilliance and although it looks pretty, the colour palette is no different from a zebra, a piano or a nun’s outfit. Every low-budget filmmaker knows this trick: black and white makes boring look classy.

Much praise has been lavished on the performances of Paapa Essiedu (Tristan) and Taylor Russell (Connie) who are commendably fluent and convincing in their roles. But even that harms the show. Watching a pair of loved-up sex-athletes playfully molesting each other for two hours will probably set your teeth on edge.

1.  'bag of spanners' Urban Dictionary

A product, device or service that appears to work, but when you look deeper turns out to be a collection of badly thought out and badly implemented ideas that is going to cause you no end of grief.

Tuesday, September 05, 2023


I have booked tickets (Icons passim) for the London Jazz Festival's Opening Gala at the Festival Hall on Friday November 10th.

It popped into my head as I finished that, now I had the credit card out, I ought to book up November's once-a-month theatre jaunt. Hey presto Backstairs Billy on Monday 13th has jumped right in there.

Michael Grandage Company presents Marcelo Dos Santos’ new comedy Backstairs Billy which looks at a pivotal moment in the 50 year relationship between the Queen Mother and her loyal servant William “Billy” Tallon. Michael Grandage directs Penelope Wilton as the Queen Mother and Luke Evans as Billy.

"Michael Grandage directs Penelope Wilton as the Queen Mother and Luke Evans as Billy," is all but a Peter Gill celebration

Donna can't do a band rehearsal tomorrow, as she's going to the first night of Pygmalion at the Old Vic. Maybe PG is right, and Collywood sustains London's theatre all but single handedly.

The 89th play Alan Ayckbourn's opens this week and asks how humanity will deal with artificial intelligence taking over modern life? God there is going to be a glut of this stuff. I've got an excuse for not seeing the Ayckbourn as it is on in Scarborough, but I will be taking my punishment like a man at the Hampstead on Monday.

Monday, September 04, 2023

Still thinking out loud

A Suzuki 1072-F Folkmaster Harmonica in F should arrive tomorrow. I plumped for it as it is one of the few harps available from Amazon, at least over here, with free next day Prime delivery.

Apparently, it is confirmed by a letter from Mike Batlan, who worked for Springsteen as a musical instrument technician from 1973 to 1985, that the harmonica on  Thunder Road is in F. Good enough for me.

If only I knew how to read harmonica tabs. Ah well, as I don't I suppose ears and experimentation will, as ever have to take the strain.

The shape names I will be playing on guitar if I have a capo on fret 3 follow in a non proportional font so that they should stay in sync with the lyrics if I print it out.

Provided Donna's got the old Joanna down pat I reckon I will come in just strumming on You can hide neath your covers and study your pain, then do something fancier from Well I  got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk.

D Bm  D G  D F#m  G  A
    D                 G       D
The screen door slams, Mary's dress sways
                          A                      G
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
           D                 G
Hey that's me and I want you only
                            D                 A
Don't turn me home again, I just can't face myself alone again
      D                        G                      D       G D
Don't run back inside, darling you know just what I'm here for
So you're scared and you're thinking
     A                   G
That maybe we ain't that young anymore
Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
            D                        G
You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright
       D                   A
Oh and that's alright with me
        D                          Bm
You can hide neath your covers and study your pain
     D                               G
Make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain
D                 F#m
Waste your summer praying in vain
      G                          A
For a saviour to rise from these streets
             D                    Bm
Well now I'm no hero, that's understood
        D                                  G
All the redemption I can offer, girl, is beneath this dirty hood
       D                 F#m
With a chance to make it good somehow
    G                   A
Hey what else can we do now?
       D                        G                 D             G D
Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
Well the night's busting open
      F#m                    G
These two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
   D                            G
To trade in these wings on some wheels
              D                     A
Climb in back heaven's waiting down on the tracks
D          Bm
Oh oh come take my hand
      D                     G
We re riding out tonight to case the promised land
D        F#m              G                A
Oh oh oh oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road,
D                      Bm
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
    D                   G
Hey I know it's late we can make it if we run
D        F#m                  G          A             D
Oh oh oh oh Thunder Road, sit tight take hold, Thunder Road
D       G                     A                      D
Well I  got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk
       Bm                                          G    A
And my car's out back if you're ready to take that long walk
          G                       A
From your front porch to my front seat
           F#m                        Bm
The door's open but the ride it ain't free
    G                                   Em
And I know you're lonely for words that I ain't spoken
But tonight we'll be free, all the promises'll be broken
           D                     G                D        G D
There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road
       F#m                G
In the skeleton frames of burned out Chevrolets
They scream your name at night in the street
                D                          G
Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet and in the
F#m                                    G
Lonely cool before dawn you hear their engines roaring on but when you
Em                       A           G              Em
Get to the porch they're gone on the wind - so Mary climb in
       G                           A                      D
It's a town full of losers and I'm pulling out of here to win
D  A   D  G
D  A   G G G  A A A  5x

Sunday, September 03, 2023

Thunder Road (thinking out loud)

I am thinking of doing a cover of Thunder Road (Live at the Roxy Theatre, W. Hollywood, CA - October 1975) with Donna on piano as she says she is a good player, for all that the sheet music goes in via her eyes and comes out via her fingers; no 'head arrangements' involved in other words. There is a proper piano at the Sultan, so perhaps we could do it at an Open Mic Night there.

I already use MuseScore for my own writing so I am thinking of paying for She can play the sheet music and I can rehearse on my own adding guitar and F harmonica to the score by ear.

I am thinking of putting a capo on fret three to avoid the pain in the neck Bb and Gm chords. On fret 1 F is an D shape, Bb is G, and  is Gm is Em. and Bb; plenty ringing open strings and arpeggio possibilities.

Saturday, September 02, 2023

Chelsea v Nottingham Forest


Nottingham Forest have signed Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi as they completed deals for four players on deadline day. 
Hudson-Odoi, 22, who has three caps for England, moves to Forest on a three-year deal for a fee of under £5m after making 156 appearances for the Blues.
He spent last season on loan at Bayer Leverkusen, with Forest beating Fulham to the signing, having made a total of 156 appearances for Chelsea. 
"It's massive for me to be here and I can't wait to get started. It's a new chapter for me," he said.
Todd Boehly is a lunatic. I hope Callum plays for Forest against Chelsea at three this afternoon and contributes to thumping his erstwhile club. It is no secret that I have got a soft spot for him and for his family. My Ben met him on their first day at primary school and the two of them became firm friends. My contribution to his football development though is confined to showing him Shaolin Soccer (passim) one day when he was round my house.

Steve Cooper, Forest's Welsh manager and former player. He is currently the manager of Premier League club Nottingham Forest coached England's U17s, who included Callum, to the 2017 World Cup so he must obviously know and like him. Fingers crossed he can bring SW19's finest back to his best.

Friday, September 01, 2023

EFG (Entertainment for Grownups?)

Andy M has reminded me that the London Jazz Festival is back 10-19 November 2023.

Last year (passim) we saw Yolanda Charles and that (passim) was a sorta sequel to Ronnie Scott's with Andy and Ian to see Kurt Elling featuring Charlie Hunter last night the year before.

These hardy perennial emerging traditions are a good way of keeping in touch with people without living in each other's pockets.

I am proposing the 'Opening Gala: Jazz Voice' Fri 10 November 2023, Southbank Centre / Royal Festival Hall for this year. (Cheap seats mind. Best are a bit salty.)