Bakkhai by Euripides, Almeida Theatre, 22 August 2015

Janie’s not normally one for classics, but this was promised as a new version of Bakkhai, so we went for it.

In truth, Bakkhai cannot modernise in the way that, say, Medea (which, as part of this Almeida Greeks season, really was modernised) can.

Still, this was a superb production so we both really enjoyed it. Ben Whishaw is exceptional, but the whole cast was good, as was the design, choreography, the lot.

Excellent Almeida stub with all the details, including links to most of the major reviews, saving me the trouble – click here. Those reviews were almost universally very good.

Nuff said.



Work Rest and Play described by Dumbo, King Cricket Report, 12 August 2015

My deal with King Cricket is basically that I write what I want, when I want. The reciprocal part of the deal is that he’ll publish what he wants (almost all of it) when he wants (perhaps months or years later).

So it is often a pleasant surprise when one of my older pieces pops up out of the blue, as this one did on 9 January 2017, to remind me what I was up to back on 12 August 2015 – click here to read the King Cricket piece.

Just in case anything ever happens to King Cricket, I have scraped the above page – to here.

Dumbo, my normally law-abiding Suzuki Jimny (although he does think that he is a horse) tells this tale.

Picture from one of Dumbo’s other adventures, on a day which did not go quite so well.

This piece was, for Dumbo, the conclusion of a small build (through several adventures) towards him getting inside Lord’s and actually seeing the ground.

…so the 12 August 2015 net visit evening proved most exciting for Dumbo, as he actually did make it into Lord’s – click here to go straight to the King Cricket piece.

One of the ironies of all this, of course, is that Dumbo has subsequently become a regular visitor to Lord’s Cricket Ground, when I visit Middlesex CCC for meetings and/or the real tennis court. On quieter days, Dumbo sometimes even gets to park with a view of the hallowed turf itself. On such days, I think I detect Dumbo getting quite dewey-windscreened.

Still, nothing a short blast of air conditioning can’t put right.


Dinner With John White at Bocca Di Lupo, Preceded by Graphic Bar, 10 August 2015

The plans were laid back in late June – me to John:

I have booked Bocca di Lupo in Archer Street for 19:30 on 10 August.  Happy to meet for a drink beforehand and/or turn up at the restaurant a little earlier, of course.

Then the day before the event, John to me:

Let’s meet at 6.30. Is there a pub near the caff were eating in?

I replied:

That was a really tough assignment you set me – finding a drinking house in Soho.  But after many hours of research I discovered just one, Graphic Bar, hidden away in the corner; 4 Golden Square W1F 9HT, within spitting distance of our caff:

Graphic turned out to be a gin palace more than a wine bar, with a young, trendy clientele and even younger and trendier staff. The waitress seemed a little disappointed in us, drinking wine rather than gin.

When I called for the bill, she asked if we wanted it split. “Oh no”, I said, “our tradition when we meet is to alternate who pays for the dinner and the other pays for pre-dinner drinks – so this is on me.  We’ve been doing it this way for thirty years, since we left University.”

“Awesome,” said the waitress, “you’ve kept in touch with each other all those years, that’s really amazing. How did you do that back in the days before Facebook?”

She wasn’t joking; she really couldn’t imagine how keeping in touch might have been done. We mumbled about telephones and post; I might even have made a quip about carrier pigeons.

Then on to Bocca Di Lupo, which was really good food. The thing there is to try small plates, so we shared lots of those. I’m hoping John can remember what we tried, as my glance at the menu (in December 2016) draws mostly blanks or vague recollections, the only one really sticking in my mind being Pappardelle with wild boar ragú.

John – help!

I do remember that the food was very good, though. That I do remember. Not rush back good. Not “must take Mandy and Janie” good. But still very good.


The Day I Didn’t Go To Cricket With Paul Deacon, I Watched TV For Several Hours Instead, 6 August 2015

It’s strange how we sometimes don’t connect two things that have happened. Or in this case, connect one thing that didn’t happen with another thing that did happen.

Stumbling across my diary entry for Thursday 6 August 2015, I see a line through the day (which means that I had booked a day’s leave) and then the following notes:

E v A @ Trent 1, Notts @ Lord’s, Paul Deacon.

Ah yes. Paul Deacon, who relocated to Canada with his family a few years ago now, was over for a few weeks. We had hatched a plan to meet at Lord’s that day. Paul enjoys a bit of cricket and “the girls” (Christine & Anya) liked the idea of some shopping in Central London during those hours.

Then we learnt that the threatened tube strikes for that day were indeed going ahead. We exchanged some notes the day before about trains and buses, but in the end the Deacons very sensibly decided to steer clear of Central London on a strike day.

In truth, I am not wild about 50 over cricket. Great as a day out with a friend, but I certainly didn’t feel motivated to trek to Lord’s on my tod to see that game. No.

And there was an Ashes Test match due to start the same day. So I decided instead that I’d stay home, get a bit ahead of myself with work and stuff. Oh, and of course keep at least half an eye on the test match.

So I plonked myself in front of the TV to watch the first ball of this match – click here.

This now famous utter routing of Australia became compelling viewing within 5 minutes and I basically didn’t move from the TV for a couple of hours until the lunch interval. That is not normal cricket viewing behaviour for me.

King Cricket had preambled the day’s play with a moan fest about Jimmy Anderson’s absence, which generated some rather interesting comments as the morning unfolded – click here.

King Cricket then attempted a reverse ferret on the day, rapidly reporting the event thus – click here.

Bert, one of King Cricket’s regular readers, correspondents and occasional reporter, provided an epic match report in the KC style, i.e. somehow managing to avoid mentioning the cricket – click here.

So, I had all that fun, instead of traipsing to Lord’s to see this match. If you can be bothered, I mean really don’t feel obliged, but you may, if you really want to see the scorecard, click here.

Thing is, though, from then until today (in December 2016) I had not once made the connection between my availability to see that extraordinary session of Ashes Test match history unfold and the earlier disappointment of having to abandon the proposed trip to Lord’s with Paul.

Therefore not once had I even thought to thank Paul for making his sensible decision to avoid Central London, thus allowing the day to unfold for me as it did.

Until now.

Thanks, Paul.