The Author by Tim Crouch, Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, 26 September 2009

I only vaguely recall this one. Experimental theatre, with the cast sitting among us as the audience.

The Royal Court has only left scant details up – click here for those.

Tim Crouch himself is a little more forthcoming on his site – here.

Here are some rehearsal and preview extracts from the Royal Court:

Tim took this play to Edinburgh the following year – here is a two minute extract:

Post modern in a “theatre about theatre” way. An attempt to shake up the complacency of audience members like us.

It seems to have worked better on critics than it did on us:

Baroque In High Definition, Academy of Ancient Music, Wigmore Hall 25 September 2009

The conceit of this tasty concert was to play baroque music that has been used in movies in the last 25 years.

It would have made little difference to us had we remained ignorant of the movie link, but possibly the conceit helped to pull in an audience, not that the Academy of Ancient Music needs much help at the Wigmore Hall on a Friday evening. Perhaps it helped the night before in Cambridge.

Richard Egarr has a very pleasant manner, as do the named soloists for this gig.

This is what we heard:

Just what the doctor ordered after a hard week’s work. Or under any circumstances really.

Middlesex v Derbyshire Day One, Uxbridge, 15 September 2009

This was another of those days when I hoped to see some cricket at Uxbridge but the weather was set foul. My track record over the years on days when I want to go to Middlesex out grounds can only be described as terrible…almost as terrible as Middlesex’s 2009 season.

Middlesex were having a shocking season that year, so it was hard to get reporters. Hence Hippity volunteered to go to Uxbridge and then write this one up…at least that’s what the editor was told.

Hippity’s regular (dry) vantage point

Hippity’s writing career mercifully tailed off after the 2009 season, with just the occasional piece for MTWD or King Cricket subsequently.

Here is the 15 September 2009 report: Soggy Tail From Uxbridge.

Just in case anything ever happens to MTWD, I have scraped the piece to Ogblog – only click the link below if the link above doesn’t work:

Middlesex till we die – Soggy Tail From Uxbridge

Here is the scorecard from the inevitable draw.

For the record, rabbit-friendly “Uncail Victor at Uxbridge” is Vic Demain, who has gone on to grander things – at the time of writing he is groundsman at Chester-Le-Street. Not so rabbit-friendly “Uncail Micheál at Lord’s” is Mick Hunt.

I vaguely remember Tim Groenewald being taken poorly towards the end of this match and there being a resulting health scare (unfounded as it turned out) about both squads. The details are lost in the mists of my memory, although linger somewhere on the message boards. I do remember him being a bit of a thorn in Middlesex’s side on subsequent meetings over the years though.

As for the scurrilous suggestion that Middlesex might end that rotten season coming bottom of the second division, that was an outrage. Middlesex in fact came second from bottom, a full two points clear of the county championship wooden spoon – click here to see the table. Middlesex are yet to “win” that particular wooden spoon ever, I believe.

Tennis at hotel Moulin d’Hauterive – an aside, 1 to 5 September 2009

An aside about tennis during our short Burgundy break with Tony and Phillie – the main piece can be found here.

One of the reasons we booked the Moulin d’Hauterive  was because it boasted a tennis court amongst its amenities.

Janie and I have travelled far and we have travelled wide. Our tennis rackets and balls have travelled long distances with us. Occasionally the tennis courts we find at the hotels are not quite up to the standards we are used to at home, not that we have always played on very high standards of surfaces at home either. We are leisure players.

For example, we enjoyed the tennis court at the Zenobia Cham Palace Hotel in Palmyra in 1997 despite its idiosyncrasies – I don’t suppose it is up to much any more of course – point is, we make allowances.

But the tennis court at Moulin d’Hauterive almost defies description. Had the Burgundy region recently suffered a major war or a series of natural disasters of the earthquake and hurricane variety, the cracked, moonscape-like surface and the intermittence of the perimeter netting might have been explicable.

But this didn’t look like the result of a recent disaster. It looked like decades of neglectful, distressed gentility.

On challenge, the rather haughty proprietor’s son (who had sniffly advised us, when I asked about choosing wine to go with the specific food we had ordered, simply that the more expensive bottles were always the better ones) mumbled indifferently that the court was indeed due for some repairs soon.

We played each day. It is difficult to describe the game we played as tennis in the modern sense, but it was some form of a game with rackets and balls, plus we used the tennis scoring system. But in truth it was more of a range hitting game, where we aimed for the smooth if we wanted to perpetuate a rally or aimed for the rough if we wanted a laugh.

Memorable is probably the best adjective for it.

I note that hotel Moulin d’Hauterive no longer boasts the tennis court amongst its amenities. What a pity.

A Few Days in Burgundy With Tony and Phillie, 1 to 5 September 2009

I had to do some serious detective and memory work on this short trip to Burgundy, as I didn’t keep a journal.

Here is an extract from an e-mail from “Auntie Janet” at Ultimate Travel:

I think you are best to fly to Lyon, which is about 2 hours/86 miles from the hotel.

The flights are as follows:

01 Sept.    BA 360    Depart Heathrow 08.40    Arrive Lyon 11.15

05 Sept.    BA 363    Depart Lyon 19.25    Arrive Heathrow 20.00

…small automatic hire car, Citroen C3 or similar…will be on request if you want to go ahead and they can be quite scarce.

Darn right about scarcity – we ended up needing to reacquaint ourselves with a stick shift for that trip.

We ended up booking this hotel, Moulin d’Hauterive. It boasted a pool and a tennis court. The tennis court was an interesting wreck, I remember, variable bounce, varying between “in yer face” and non-existent, like playing real tennis except without walls, galleries and roofs. I have written a short aside on the tennis – here.


Tony and Phillie were going to be on a driving all the way to South of France holiday late August. The idea was for us to join them in a nice spot mid-France as they wended their way back to Blighty. Once we’d booked, I wrote:

We fly in to Lyon late morning on the Tuesday, so should arrive at the hotel some time mid afternoon if all goes to plan.  Suspect we might get there before you unless you leave early and put your foot down.


The hotel restaurant does not open on Wednesdays and the nearest alternative is some 15 kms away from the hotel.  We might want to try that alternative place or we might want to arrange a picnic for the Wednesday!  We can decide all that when we are there, but thought you ought to know this vital fact.

We did indeed arrive some time before them on the Tuesday, 1 September. Janie got busy making sure that we (and Tony/Phillie) had the best available rooms, which got us off to an interesting start with the son of the proprietor, whose name escapes me and is absent from the website. Sonny took pains to tell us that he had worked in advertising in Paris for many years, before reluctantly agreeing to retreat and help run the family business when it got a bit harder for his parents. The parents were noticeably absent throughout our stay.

I recall that we did indeed eat in the hotel with Tony and Phillie on the Tuesday and the Thursday evening. The food was very good there. The wine pricey but that’s Burgundy for you. I also recall us going into Beaune on the Wednesday evening and having a very pleasant meal in the town. Tony decided to drive in the end, after we toyed with the idea of getting taxis too and fro.

We mostly just all relaxed together for two-and-a-half to three days. Tony and Phillie set off for home Friday morning; we’d booked the extra night.

Tony and Phillie both looked at us quizzically before they headed off when the answer to their question, “what are you going to do after we leave today?” was, “we’re going to the Bresse service station for lunch”.  Our culinary service station quest was largely a result of reading this article by aptronym extraordinaire Heston Blumenthal.

We did also want to see Beaune…


…and Bourg-en-Bresse, but the most important bit was to eat lunch at the Bresse service station, where they serve poulet-de-Bresse and yes indeed it was wonderful food.

After lunch, we strolled around and found a nice music shop (I think in Bourg, not Beaune) where I bought some very good CDs, not least Jean-Guihen Queyras’s Complete Bach Cello Suites (we have subsequently seen him perform at the Wigmore Hall – click here). We also bought some well-cool Paris Jazz CDs, which Janie still plays when she is feeling in a suitably continental mood.

When we got back, the weather had perked up, so we played tennis and relaxed around the pool.  I was reading Life Beyond the Airing Cupboard by John Barclay – a seriously good book btw.


King Cricket published my book review of Life Beyond The Airing Cupboard in October 2017 – click here or the above photo.

We didn’t take many photos on that trip; indeed I think none until after Tony and Phillie had gone. In truth, Phillie was not very well by then (it turned out to be Phillie’s last holiday) and I don’t think she much fancied being photographed. The few pictures we did take are of Beaune and of me and Janie relaxing when we got back from our poulet-de-Bresse quest – on this small album going forward from the starting point.