Dinner With John White At Bam Bou, 29 March 2010

No wonder I sounded a bit stressy in communications earlier that month – not only was I running some gargantuan projects at that time I was also up against The Price of Fish draft deadline ahead of sloping off to China.

Earlier on the afternoon we were due to meet…John to me:

I have booked Bam Bou a Vietnamese restaurant for 7 through top table – and am still awaiting confirmation.  When and if I do I will confirm to you.

Me to John:



Thanks.  Been there several times.  It is excellent.

Assuming that is confirmed can we please meet there – I am up against deadlines this week as you might well imagine, not least the book to finish today and tomorrow!!



John to me:

Booked for 7 pm.  See you there.  Bring the book!

I’m not sure I did that, but I might have taken a small chunk or two with me.

Bam Bou was an excellent restaurant then and I recall having a fine meal with John on that occasion.

John might remember what we ate.

Sadly, departed. Bam Bou I mean. Not John. Nor the book, The Price of Fish – that is still available at Amazon and all good book outlets:


Handel’s 1710: Venice – Hanover – London, London Handel Orchestra, Wigmore Hall, 28 March 2010

A lovely Sunday evening concert at The Wigmore Hall.

Handel was the focus but it included works by some lesser-known characters from that late Baroque period: Agostino Steffani, Francesco Venturini and Nicola Haym.

No, me neither, hence links provided.

The concert was part of that year’s London Handel Festival. I have saved the brochure from the web – here.

Anyway, the music was lovely and as always we found an evening of music at The Wig a most relaxing way to round off a weekend.

Sweet Nothings by Arthur Schnitzler, in a new version by David Harrower, Young Vic, 27 March 2010

There’s always something a bit weird about Arthur Schnitzler plays and this one was no exception. All very hedonistic and tragic.

Here is the officiallondontheatre.co.uk resource on this Young Vic production.

The Young Vic made a YouTube trailer for this production:

The cast were very good and the production was excellent.

Well received too – this search term – click here – finds many reviews – nearly all good.

There’s just something about fin-de-siecle Austrian plays that doesn’t quite float our boat, however well done they are.

Still, we were pleased to have seen this one – it was one of the best things we had seen so far that year…but then we were having a poor year for theatre up to that point.

Seaxe Club AGM, Warner Restaurant, Lord’s, 24 March 2010

I needed to look up the Middlesex Till We Die (MTWD) thread on this one to recall it, but this link – click here – brought it all flooding back to me.

If the above link doesn’t work, the text is scraped to here.

So this was the year that Iain O’Brien was the star of the show…

…and the year when the club still couldn’t talk about new season signings, even in late March.

The MTWD correspondents seem to spend more time discussing Barmy Kev’s ability to grab the wine than the content of the meeting and discussion. Another year, another Seaxe Club AGM through the lens of MTWD.


Roots, Cantor Norman Cohen Falah & Kerensya, V&A, 21 March 2010

This was an afternoon concert at the V&A. I’m not sure how we got on to this one. Daisy wasn’t yet a member of the V&A – perhaps one of her clients suggested it.

The Sephardic music was very sweet and interesting. A relatively small room/small audience at the V&A, I recall.

We very much enjoyed the experience.

The programme follows:


Los Van Van, The Roundhouse, 20 March 2010

Neither Janie nor I remember very much about this concert, other than attending it.

I can see some e-mail correspondence with The Roundhouse, as I had booked a package to include VIP bar (whatever that might have meant), but they decided not to have a VIP bar that night so refunded some of my money.

Quite right – the idea of a VIP bar is not very Castro-Cuban, is it?

We heard recordings of and bought some Los Van Van music while we were on holiday in Cuba in 2007 (which I shall Ogblog in the fullness of time).

Click above for Amazon link – other albums and suppliers are available 

I can’t really recall why, but the concert at The Roundhouse didn’t quite send us. I think we expected something a bit livelier and Janie had such wonderful memories of dancing at Casa de la Trova etc. when in Cuba…

…of course it wasn’t going to feel like that…

…although this write up from 2009 and enticing video promised plenty – click here.

(If the above link doesn’t work, the text at least is scraped to here).

So I’m not entirely sure why this wasn’t more memorable for us…but it wasn’t. Just as well there is a vid from the previous year’s concert, then.

Dinner With David Willetts, Forum For European Philosophy, Brooks’s Club, 15 March 2010

Through our chance encounter in Mexico and resulting friendship with philosophers Alan Montefiore and Catherine Audard, I would occasionally be invited to a high falutin’ philosophical event.

This was one such.

A dinner with guest speaker David Willetts, known as “Two Brains” in political circles, apparently. Even his Wikipedia entry says so… in at least two places at the time of writing.

It was a gathering of brainy folk, of course; those European philosophers were a very interesting and lively bunch over dinner.

The topic, inter-generational divides, was a hot topic at that time and Willetts had written a book about it, which he was promoting at the time:

Click above or here for an Amazon link (other outlets are available) to the book.

I bought a copy the day after the dinner. I even pretty much read the book. It’s main premise was that the baby boomer generation had stolen much from the future of the coming generation or two.

Strangely, once in government, he went on to be the Universities minister who advocated upping the university tuition fees, which seems strangely at odds with the main premise of his book, but there you are. Two Brains is a Baron at the time of writing (October 2017) and Chair of the Resolution Foundation.

Anyway, as always with these Forum For European Philosophy dinners, the food was good, the company around the table most impressive and it was always a pleasure to spend time with Alan and Catherine.

Drinking and Eating, With The Mainelli Family, Hawksmoor Spitalfields, 13 March and with Mum, Perfect Blend Streatham 14 March 2010

No idea where Michael and I had a drink on 10 March, but my diary simply says:

MRM fm 17:00

I’m guessing we wanted to get all the business chat out of the way ahead of the social gathering a few days later – probably on pain of nagging from both Elisabeth and Janie.

MRM to me later that evening (10 March):

Good to chat tonight over a bottle of wine.  Should do it more often.

Asked about our China travel guides, apparently given away…

…Behind the scenes for Saturday – Elisabeth has NOT booked a sitter and thinks Xenia and Maxine are coming.  You might want to chat with Janie.  (1) If that’s fine, then we might as well meet at Hawksmoor.  (2) If that’s not fine, i.e. the girls are in total female communication mode, then I’m happy to put the paternal foot down for a sitter.

Me to Michael fewer than 15 minutes later. I sound a bit stressy. Perhaps just tired and emotional:


Re Saturday, I strongly suggest you get Elisabeth to speak with Janie on this.  The whole point of meeting at yours, as far as Janie is concerned, is that otherwise we won’t see the children.  If I raise this matter, Janie might well go off on one!!  We should either meet at the restaurant at 19:30 six strong or at your house 18:00 with sitter on the way.  Leave it to the girls to decide.  I’m easy either way.

Another boat worth not rocking is the itinerary for the holiday.  There won’t be any holiday unless we simply close on this very soon (5th or is it  6th iteration); and believe me on this occasion I am totally cool about it, other than imploring not to pack the itinerary with so much that we don’t get any rest!!  Stone Forest was inked in on first iteration and won’t budge, I’m sure.

The itinerary in question was the forthcoming trip to Yunnan and Sanya, which all came good in the end.

Janie and I recall that the Saturday event ended up being deferred to 19:30 at Hawksmoor Spitalfields with the Mainelli family complete.

Hawksmoor Spitalfields was (quite probably still is) a cracking good restaurant – absolutely top notch. Janie reckoned it even topped Smith and Wollensky in New York for quality – praise indeed. The Mainelli girls were (quite possibly still are) very well behaved to the point of being good company on a grown up meal out – at that time they were 12 and 10 ish.

The Hawksmoor thing was great for family eating, as you can choose your size of steak/chunk of beef and then share.

Anyway, Saturday 13 March was an excellent evening out.

Probably the last thing Janie and I needed was a big lunch the next day but…

…14 March 2010 was mothering Sunday.

Mum was really into Perfect Blend at that time – a local eatery run by a really nice and friendly family – the son ran the restaurant/cafe, which was across the road from his father’s greengrocer shop, which had been there since the very dawn of time.

Perfect Blend is sill there at the time of writing (October 2017) – well done – but here is a scrape for just in case the above eponymous link doesn’t work.

We liked the place because the staff were all very nice with mum and she felt she was supporting nice local people whom she had sort-of known for a very long time. I vaguely recall the service being a bit below the normal superb standards that day, as most places are on mothering Sunday, as the plethora of demanding mothers needing above average levels of attention spread the service capability a bit thin in even the best places.

Between all these eating and drinking activities, I would have been following the test match from Chittagong – click here.  I’ll guess that we timed lunch and our arrival at the house to ensure that the cricket was over and mum therefore will have noticed no distraction on my part. Mum might have noticed a slightly hungover version of me, though, from the Hawksmoor evening – great wines.

Oh well.

Three Evenings Of Nets At Lord’s, 18 February, 26 February and 12 March 2010

Having ascertained that Escamillo (Lavender’s beau) was keen on cricket, it only seemed polite to have a few nets with him at Lord’s that winter.

The diary is a bit sparse on what we actually did:

  • 18 February Lord’s @18:00;
  • 26 February Nets & Dinner 6:00;
  • 12 March (Nets) 7:00 to 8:00.

The e-mail is not much additional help – me to E 14 March:

Very much enjoyed Friday evening nets and supper at Harry’s.  Many thanks for treating us to the latter.

In the nets, I have a feeling we worked with Moses (Hallam Mosely) on most of those sessions. He taught me how to pivot to get a bit more umph on my deliveries.

I’m pretty sure Chas was still injured at that time, which is why he didn’t join us for nets that winter. My correspondence with him around that time is prely business related.

I’m pretty sure the girls joined us for the last two – i.e. both of the Friday evenings. Daisy recalls a restaurant in Marylebone on 26 February – we might dig out her diary or trawl Lavender’s memory for the details, but I think we treated the youngsters that night and then they treated us to Harry’s 12 March.

Further details might follow, if Daisy’s diary or the youngsters’ memories bear more fruit.


Not Marylebone 26 February, but The Cow on Westbourne Park Road – well remembered Escamillo & Lavender. Yes, we all agree, Harry’s for the second evening together.

Keele In The City, Tiger Tiger, 11 March 2010

I was supposed to go to this event with John White, but it seems he blew me out about a week before (story of my life this, John).

But then, a “quite by chance” encounter with Bobbie Scully (at the Van Gogh we think) rescued my evening. My correspondence with John Easom on 6 March confirms. I wrote:

> I believe you placed John S White on the guest list as well.  Sadly, he is unable to chaperone me that evening, so his name need no longer appear on the list.

> However, I ran into Bobbie Scully unexpectedly last night (what a small place London is) and she has volunteered to take John’s place, as long as it isn’t too late to add her name to this list.  She is also 1984 and might be on your lists as Barbara Scully.

Best wishes and see you Thursday

Why I thought I needed chaperoning for anything I have no idea, but Bobbie certainly did join me that evening at Tiger Tiger I recall.

The event even got a mention in the Keele Newsletter – click here.

I remember chatting with quite a few people, not least Mark Thomas, sharing reminiscence of my headline piece when he was elected President of the Union (to be Ogblogged in the fullness of time).

I also met John Easom for the first time that evening, I am pretty sure.

It was quite noisy, though, so I seem to recall Bobbie and I not hanging around too long and heading off in search of a quieter place to eat and have a chin-wag. I think we might have ventured to a Chinese Restaurant for that purpose. We were in that part of town.

Bobbie might remember better than I do…

…or perhaps not.