Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, Curzon Bloomsbury, 27 December 2015

Straight back to the Curzon Bloomsbury (we’re going to have to join this darned thing) to see Peggy Guggenheim: Art Critic – IMDb will describe it better than I could.

Word seems to have got out that it was easy to navigate London yesterday afternoon – far more traffic this afternoon.  Still, free holiday parking and that Bloomsbury neighbourhood is quiet, quiet, quiet.

Fascinating film, especially as Janie loves those 20th Century art movements and several of her clients move(d) in those circles. So lots to talk about afterwards.

I liked the stuff about Peggy’s eccentricities and her “rich but bonkers” family as much, if not more, than the trail of great artists which she (in her inimitable styles) patronised.

Taxi Tehran, Curzon Bloomsbury, 26 December 2015

What an exceptional, yet strange movie this is.  We both loved it.  You can read all about it on IMDb – you don’t need me for that.

We also really liked the Curzon Bloomsbury this time.  Last time we went to that place, it was still the Renoir and looked a little sad.  Curzon have given it quite a makeover, so Daisy’s slight reluctance turned to joy.

Not that we had a choice of venue for this movie.  This Christmas season, most of the art house movie theatres we like are trying to cash in on Star Wars.  So our habit of catching up on limited release movies over Christmas is somewhat impeded this year.

Still, we hope to see one or two other limited release movies over the season, not least at the Curzon Bloomsbury which now has a lot of, mostly quite small, screening rooms, ideal for those “less-glam movies” we tend to like.

Forget Me Not by Tom Holloway, Bush Theatre, 19 December 2015

A powerful evening at the theatre, this play.  It is about the forced migration of thousands of British children to Australia in the quarter-of-a-century or so after the second world war.

Janie came away from the play feeling very angry about the Australian Government, although in truth the Church and the UK Government have just as much to answer and apologise for; which, to some extent, all these parties have done in recent years.

The play is focused on one such child’s story and the impact this ill-thought policy had on his life and the lives of those around him – explained well in the Bush Theatre rubric – click here.

It is superbly acted by all four actors and well produced at the Bush, one of our favourite places at the moment, putting on interesting work with a consistent high quality; very few misses there.

Michael Billington was full of praise in his Guardian review – click here.  Henry Hitchings in the Standard was perhaps even more keen on it – click here.

It was originally produced at the Belvoir Theatre in Sydney in 2013, where it also seems to have gone down very well – for information and reviews click here.

It is quite a short evening at the theatre, which was just as well for us, as Janie and I wanted to go on to Lisa Opie’s party afterwards and get there before most people had left, which we achieved.  The party did a jolly good job of cheering us up again after this sobering but gripping evening at the theatre.

Brad Mehldau, Wigmore Hall, 17 December 2015

What in the name of Jove possessed me to book a concert at the Wigmore Hall on the last Thursday before Christmas?  Surely I knew that, despite all the plans to work less, Janie would be up to her eyes in overwork, running late and all the related stress that brings.

At 18:57, when she still hadn’t got to the flat, I really thought we were in trouble. But then she arrived and good fortune got us to a single yellow line (parking therefore permitted) within striking distance of the hall within striking distance of the appointed hour.  Even time to order interval drinks – just!

This was the gig – click here.  Actually that doesn’t explain it very well.  Brad has been commissioned to write a three piece programme inspired by The Well-Tempered Clavier.  the centrepiece of the performance was Brad playing the Well-Tempered movements that inspired him followed by the commissioned pieces.

The programme explains it better (see below).  But even that doesn’t fill you in on the other stuff he played:

  • An improvisation before the interval inspired by the C major Prelude
  • An improvisation after the third commissioned piece, based on the G major Allemande (Brad omitted to say where this came from – unlike the others, clearly not the Well-Tempered – I think it must be the slightly earlier G Major Partita – perhaps he expected us all simply to know)
  • An improvisation following the F minor Prelude and Fugue
  • An improvisation following the E flat major Prelude, the improvisation also being a variation on Martha My Dear
  • An improvisation around Pinball Wizard, with no Bach in sight.

Anyway, Janie found it all a bit scholarly, but the chance of Janie being well-tempered about anything, least of all a clavier, was always going to be low at the end of such a day.  In truth, I found Brad’s “straight” playing of the Bach rather wooden, almost as if he couldn’t bear to “swing it at all” when playing the actual piece, so that the jazz variation would come to the fore.  In reality, Bach masters swing it quite a bit on the keyboard stuff.  I liked the commissioned works and the first three of the improvisations; less so the Martha and Pinball ones.

There was a heavy mee-jah presence in the hall, so Brad is clearly perceived to be a jazz master worth seeing by the cognoscenti still.  I would have enjoyed it more on a Saturday night in January, though.  Fighting through the after-work Christmas shoppers does not set us up ideally for a evening of Bach, jazz, jazz-Bach or Bach-jazz.

Brad 17 December 2015

Thomas Gresham Nativity Song, Gresham Society Soiree, 9 December 2015

To Gresham College at Barnard’s Inn Hall, for the biennial Gresham Society soiree.  Those of a musical or light entertainment persuasion put on a short variety show, as the scene-setter for a jolly social. The usual assortment of super people gathered; a mixture of professors, former professors/lecturers and Gresham College enthusiasts.

I wrote a version of “I’m Henery The Eighth I Am”, to describe the events that might have led to Thomas Gresham’s birth and eventual financial heroics. I decided to give my recently-acquired baritone ukulele skills an outing this time, not least because I have recently imported a Roosebeck Baritone Baroq-ulele which certainly looked the part for this “piece”.

This was quite a daunting performance for me – I only took up the baritone ukulele 18 months ago, having eschewed all instruments since the disaster that was my attempt at the violin as a small boy. So this was to be my first performance in front of an audience.

Further, the song I chose did not have any simple chord versions to be found on the web; the chorus of course (a big hit for Herman’s Hermits and Joe Brown before them) but not the verse.

So I needed to work out the chords for myself – see attachment with my hand-written notes.  I wrote “capo 1” all over it, as I chorded it in G but it was originally written (and indeed Herman’s Hermits sang it) in A minor. In the end, though, I sang and played it without the capo, i.e. in G major, as the baroq-ulele was a little quiet for the Barnard’s Inn Hall and my voice copes a little better the deeper I go.

The audience participation elements worked well and I am told the performance was well received. In any case, as the compere Professor Tim Connell put it at the start of one of the other acts that evening, “it’s not all about music tonight”. That was certainly the case for my little rendition.

The text that follows has the original verse and chorus, by Fred Murray and R P Weston, followed by two verses of my own. Shown in the text below the music notes and then further below as viewable JPEGs and also a downloadable PDF.But, as Michael Mainelli said, there’s probably only one music hall in the world that will really appreciate my Thomas Gresham verses for the song; Barnard’s Inn Hall.

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(Song to the Tune of “I’m Henery The Eighth, I Am”)


You don’t know who you’re looking at, now have a look at me,

I’m a bit of a nob I am, belong to Royaltee;

I’ll tell you how it came about, I married widow Burch,

And I was King of England, when I toddled out of church.

Outside the people started shouting, “Hip hooray”;

Said I, “Get down upon your knees its Coronation Day.”


I’m Henery the eighth I am, Henery the eighth I am, I am

I got married to the widow next door

She’s been married seven times before

Everyone was a Henery (AUDIENCE: Henery)

She wouldn’t have a Willie or a Sam (AUDIENCE: or a Sam) 

I’m her eighth old man named Henery,

I’m Henery the eighth I am.

SECOND VERSE (different from the first; different from the original too)

I’m not so good with money if I’m left upon me own,

So I called my mate, Dick Gresham, who could organize a loan;

I said, “I need the wonga, but I can’t afford the fleece,

Get terms I can afford or else we’ll end up just like Greece”;

Dick planned long finance, so he said, “thy will be done,

Your brood will still need Greshams’ help, I’d better pop a son.”


I’m Henery the eighth I am, Henery the eighth I am,

I am I got married to the widow next door

She’s been married seven times before

Everyone was a Henery (AUDIENCE: Henery)

She wouldn’t have a Willie or a Sam (AUDIENCE: or a Sam) 

I’m her eighth old man named Henery, I’m Henery the eighth I am.

THIRD VERSE (different again!)

So Dick, he had a son named Tom, as smart as smart could be,

And when my Ted went brassic, Tommy saved the currency;

My Mary fared no better, Tommy had to bail her out,

And Liz retained his services, though she was more adroit.

All raise a glass to Tom, without him we’d be poor,

Bad money drives out good, I say, and call it Gresham’s Law.


I’m Henery the eighth I am,

Henery the eighth I am,

I am I got married to the widow next door

She’s been married seven times before

Everyone was a Henery (AUDIENCE: Henery)

She wouldn’t have a Willie or a Sam (AUDIENCE: or a Sam) 

I’m her eighth old man named Henery, I’m Henery the eighth I am. 

H-E-NRY, ‘Enery, (AUDIENCE: ‘Enery) 

‘Enery the Eighth I am, I am, Henery the Eighth I am! 


Gresham Song Page One of TwoGresham Song Page Two of Two

The Thomas Gresham Nativity Song With My Chords and Hand Written chords.

Click here or below for a link to see Harry Champion’s original version of this song.


British Museum, Faith After The Pharaohs, 3 December 2015

To the British Museum this evening, on my tod, for the Instinctif corporate party and private viewing of the Faith After The Pharaohs exhibition.

I have been to this annual corporate event for several years now and always enjoy it.  Not least, I love the British Museum and the private viewing tends to be well worth the effort.  This year was no exception.

As always, the guests at such functions tend to be somewhat self-selecting; the more interesting guests take an interest in the exhibition itself while the less interesting guests are “only here for the beer” – or in this case “only here for the champagne and posh nosh”.  So it is quite easy to find the interesting people for a chat.

The only “issue” this year was the vast amount of information rather than eye candy in this particular show, perhaps not ideal for a “party with exhibition”. Please don’t quiz me about this fascinating exhibition without giving me a second chance to mug up.