Mousse Wine Tasting, Rossi & Brunelli di Montalcino, 28 September 2016

About a week ahead, I was invited to a wine tasting by Helen Baker, a friend of Gerry Goddin who was thinking through setting up independently in the wine business:

I was wondering if you would be able to make it to a tasting?  This is the first of a series of four to be held fortnightly on a Monday, starting at 5.30 pm/6.00 pm. These first four will concentrate on Rosso/Brunello and Langhe Nebbiolo/Barolo.  I have a few older vintages and interesting comparisons, so it should be fun as well as interesting and all the wines are top notch.

As luck would have it, I was in the City that day and had no evening engagement planned, so it would have seemed churlish to turn down a chance to try some amazing wines.

I met some interesting people and tasted some superb wines at this tasting. A list of the wines we tasted is linked here: Mousse Montalcino Tasting 28 09 15

Helen very kindly let me take a couple of half-finished bottles home with me, warning me though, that the really fine Brunelli would not be at its best for much more than 24 hours.

When I told Janie what she had missed, she made a point of popping in to the flat on the Tuesday and having a quick slurp. She enjoyed both the Rossi and the Brunelli but agreed that the Brunelli was especially fine.

This new found understanding of Brunelli came in handy just a few days later in Southend-on-Sea – I kid you not. Once I have written up that visit (3 October), there should be a pingback link below.

Medea by Euripedes, a new version by Rachel Cusk, Almeida Theatre, 26 September 2015

This was a very powerful modern adaptation of Medea, wonderfully acted, directed and produced.

Kate Fleetwood was superb as the increasingly crazed Medea; so was Justin Salinger as the creepy, unreasonable Jason.

Of course, this was a modern adaptation, so it doesn’t quite end as the bloody original, but it does naturally end in tears.

Both of us were really struck by the power of this production; Janie has a natural aversion to ancient works but this modern adaptation did enough to keep her engrossed.

As always these days, an excellent Almeida stub with all the details and resources you might want if you want to know more, including links to pretty much all the reviews as it was universally heaped with praise – click here.

So I need say no more.

A Short Trip To Brighton (& Hove Actually), Primarily To See Sidney & Joan Pizan, 20 to 22 September 2015

Neither Janie nor I had been to Brighton for as long as we could remember. Meanwhile Sidney and Joan had recently moved down there (Hove actually) so we arranged a long weekend/short trip to the south coast.

I booked us in a lovely looking boutique hotel, the Hotel Una, much praised on Trip Advisor, including (as is now that site’s Facebook-linked wont) a rave review from Mike Jones, my old geography teacher from Alleyn’s. He should know, I thought, so I messaged him:

There is a first time for everything and for the first time on Trip Advisor I was shown a “review by a friend” for Hotel Una in Brighton. Janie and I are going for a couple of days in September, amongst other things to visit a cousin of mine who has recently retired to Hove. Anyway, no pressure but I immediately booked the place on the back of your rave review, so it had better be good! Very best wishes – Ian

Mike demurred, sort-of:

Well Ian we liked it very much but who knows 15 months later!!

But you were my geography teacher, Mike. If I can’t rely on your advice when I travel off to far-flung parts of the world, who can I reply on?

In fact, Janie and I loved the place – just our sort of boutique hotel, tastefully done with friendly staff, so we are returning there again late October 2016.

Janie and I set off after tennis on Sunday and spent what was left of that day strolling around Brighton, in particular The Lanes, then taking some dinner at The Salt Room.  We’ll return there next time to treat Sidney and Joan.

On Monday, we completed some shopping in the morning, then went to Sidney and Joan’s place for lunch and the afternoon. Sidney cooked a delicious lunch and we whiled away the afternoon chatting and looking at photographs.

Janie and I took a late afternoon/early evening stroll but didn’t feel very hungry and couldn’t find anywhere suitably “snack like”, so we returned to the Una where the wine list was good and they rustled up some snack food for us.

A very pleasant short trip.

F*ck The Polar Bears by Tanya Ronder, Bush Theatre, 12 September 2015

This play/production at the Bush Theatre made for a very good evening.

The communications head for a giant energy company faces issues of climate change in the discomfort of his own increasingly dysfunctional household. This sort of play is fun but it also makes you think. The Bush does this sort of play well.

Click here for the excellent Bush stub with all the information you might want about the play/production.

It didn’t get fabulous reviews, despite the fact that we really liked it:

Oh well. We did.


Middlesex v Yorkshire Day One, Followed By Meet The Players, Lord’s, 9 September 2015

Charley appealing...or celebrating a year early. Many thanks to Charles Bartlett for this picture.
Charley appealing…or celebrating a year early. Many thanks to Charles Bartlett for this picture.

Good drama often subtly uses a device known as foreshadowing. Something happens early in the piece, so when the dramatic climax or denouement comes, the audience isn’t completely taken by surprise by the twist.

Bad drama does this unsubtly, perhaps showing that one of the characters has an unsecured gun, or getting two characters to tell a convoluted back story for seemingly no reason other than foreshadowing.

Anyway, with the benefit of hindsight, the climax of the 2015 season (if that is the right way to describe it) beautifully and subtly foreshadowed the extraordinary climax to the 2016 season – reported here.

In many ways, the climax was all on Day One. Personally, because that was to be my last cricket of the year, accompanied that day by Charles (Charley “The Gent” Malloy) Bartlett. But also because Yorkshire clinched the title that day, by virtue of something that happened on some other cricket ground at some point during the afternoon. It was all a bit confusing for us spectators, who weren’t officially told by the announcer until tea, although many were listening to internet radio accounts from elsewhere, so word soon spread.

To some extent Charles’s presence was foreshadowing of day one of the same fixture in 2016. In some ways, the first over of Middlesex’s innings – three wickets and no runs – foreshadowed the Nottinghamshire match in 2016 – click here – which Middlesex also (despite the three wickets for zip setback) went on to win.

I wrote up this day for King Cricket as long ago as April 2016, but at the time of writing this piece (November 2016) the piece is as yet unpublished. I’ll add an update and a link here once he publishes.

Postscript – naturally, not much more than a week after I Ogblogged this piece, King Cricket published that article – click here.

At the Meet the Players party in the evening, which was splendid, I suggested that the Middlesex folk should encourage the Yorkshire celebrations. I don’t think my advice was heeded, but I also don’t think the Yorkshire players needed encouragement. Despite Middlesex being on the ropes at the end of Day One, we somehow snatched victory from the very jaws of defeat in this match.

Foreshadowing again.

Here is a link to the Cricinfo scorecard for this 2015 match.

And here is a link again to the equivalent fixture the following year. Just in case you don’t know, the match result was the same, but the County Championship result was splendiforously different in 2016.


When We Were Women by Sharman MacDonald, Orange Tree Theatre, 5 September 2015

I had been really looking forward to this one. I recalled seeing and liking the companion piece, When I Was A Girl I Used To Scream And Shout, many years ago.

Sadly,  this one was rather grim and dark by comparison. Well acted, well directed, but neither Janie nor I much liked the play.

Here is a link to the Orange Tree’s stub for the production, which was reasonably well received – the stub includes some good quotes from the reviews.

As usual, we didn’t feel we’d wasted our time and enjoyed our evening out, not least our Don Fernando dinner which we almost always enjoy as an occasional treat after the Orange Tree.


A Few Days in Birmingham & Then Home, Including Warwickshire v Middlesex Days 1 to 3, Edgbaston, 1 to 4 September 2015

I wrote up this trip in literary style for King Cricket. The piece was published here, on 26 August 2016.

I more or less explained it – here – on Ogblog once it was published.

The trip was simply three days in Edgbaston, staying at the Eaton Hotel (first visit there). Straight to the ground day one, walking in to short business meetings in Birmingham proper on each of days two and three before returning to London early on day four for one last business meeting of the week.

Simples. Until Benjy, Ivan, Dumbo and Ged got their teeth into it.