A Groovy Happening In Cricklewood, Kim and Janie’s 60’s Party, 28 May 2016


This party was rather a long time in the planning. The date was set at least 18 months before the event. Kim’s birthday is late April, Janie’s is late June, so the last Saturday in May, which is also a bank holiday weekend, seemed ideal.

60’s as the theme, given the “big zero” milestone year both of them were to be reaching. It did help just a bit, of course, that Kim is in the themed party planning business. It also helped that several vivid imaginations went to work on the ideas.

On arrival, everyone was given a little bottle and a pewter cup (see photo above). People only heard 1960s style sitar music – the following playlist was playing on a loop: 60’s Warm Up Ravi Shankar To Beatles Playlist Final.

People were kept in a relatively small reception area, part courtyard, part entranceway to the Theme Traders site.


Actors dressed as Hari Krishnas welcomed new arrivals and mingled with the guests.


Then the Hari Krishnas led all the guests through the warehouse, past all the nooks and crannies that would later be party breakout rooms. At that stage the 60’s Warm Up Ravi Shankar To Beatles Playlist Final was playing throughout the warehouse.

In the garden at the back of the site, the guests were crowded into an enclosed area, not realising that the walls were paper and that behind the walls was a band ready to play and a barbecue ready to grill. In that area one of the actors was dressed as a guru. Janie had briefed him on the sorts of things to say, which ended up being a mixture of Timothy Leary, Beatles lyrics, general “peace and love” messages, getting people to chant back his incantations and the like.


It’s hard to explain why this was very funny, but it was. Some people seemed to be really into it. Only a small handful of us knew what was really going on; we of course egged on the guests, although they didn’t need much egging. Everyone must have realised that it was all meant to be a bit of fun.


Then the guru started to get very excited and even more rambling in his incantations, the drums started to roll and the guru tore down a paper wall to reveal the band.

With everyone looking towards the band, I realised that someone needed to make a start on the wall to reveal the food, which I did and found rather cathartic after all those months and especially the last few days of preparation. Soon others were helping me and the whole process probably took 5-10 seconds.

The band, Never The Bride, were really excellent. They are friends of Kim’s, or is it fairer to say that Kim is one of their groupies? Both statements are true I think. We’d seen them perform before at a small party at Kim’s house, but I hadn’t realised from that scaled down performance they had the oomph and repertoire to create a “60’s rock fest” atmosphere – but they did just that.


They performed two sets during the evening. The first had the most impact, naturally, but the second was a good “watershed” period for the party…


…a different atmosphere in the dark and a good foil for presenting the cake, butlers removing their trousers and other such merriment.


Between live sets, there was a DJ. We had supplied him with a strong playlist of sixties dance music…

60’s Dance Soul and Funk Top 100 Playlist Final

…but he played little from that and showed reluctance when several guests (including Janie) made specific requests, unfortunately. Later in the evening, I switched the sounds in the Mods breakout area (see below) to the above playlist so that some of us could have more appropriate bop.

Breakout Rooms and Music

The breakout rooms were fabulous. I curated different music for different zones, the playlists for which (but not the music) are all downloadable here:

60’s Surf, Lounge, Jazz & Tropical Playlist Final

60’s Folk, Hippy and Psychedelic Zone Playlist Final

60’s Carnaby Street, Quintessential Playlist Final

60’s Mods, Go-Go, Ska & John The Only One Dancing Playlist Final

Between the surf lounge area and the hippy psychedelic area was a small breakout room with everything upside down, “Alice In Wonderland”-like. When we went over to set up the sound the day before, Kim’s team were worried because there was so much sound bleed between those two other zones in that area. I listened for a while and realised that the very different types of music, one  type coming from one side, the other type coming from the other side, created a very strange soundscape and decided that this was exactly what music in the upside down room should sound like! It became a real feature.

The actors changed from Hari Krishnas to characters from the Sixties and mingled around the party and the breakout areas. By way of example, here is a picture of “Andy Warhol” in the Hippy Zone:



One of the breakout rooms was a mini cinema, which showed an amazing short movie that Kim and Janie had made a few weeks before the party. It depicts the two of them talking about the heady days of the sixties and mingling with many big names from that era. It is really very funny. If you haven’t seen it and want to have a look at the movie, for the time being drop me an e-mail or a comment and I’ll arrange for you to see it.


There are loads of photos. For now, if you go to my Flickr albums area, you can see all the mini albums that friends have sent to me and Janie, click here. More are coming through and we plan to sit down with Kim and make up a consolidated album over the next few weeks.


I’ll write more about the food and the photos and the music in the fullness of time, but it is (at the time of writing this piece) nearly two weeks since the party, so the public deserves to read something about it by now. Although those of us who were there will struggle to forget this party…

…although they say that if you remember the Sixties you weren’t doing it right…so in that sense, I suppose, this memorable evening was contra-Sixties. Or perhaps uber-Sixties.

Anyway, it was fab and groovy. Peace and love.

A Couple of Days spent mostly at Lord’s, Middlesex v Somerset, 23 & 24 May 2016


I played real tennis at the convenient time of 10:00 – convenient that is for seeing a fair chunk of county cricket afterwards. I played a good game this morning by my own sporadic standards. By the time I had showered, changed and chatted best part of half the morning session had passed, but I found a nice sunny spot in the pavilion and hunkered down with my book, A Confederacy of Dunces, which I was determined to finish today, along with some more business-oriented reading.

I had taken with me the simplest lunch of nuts and fruit. A resuscitating coffee in the pavilion afterwards and then I went in search of more sun by relocating to the front of the Mound Stand. Fine spring weather it was.

Trego and Gregory were trying to ruin Middlesex’s day, but once Trego fell the wickets tumbled. Then Robson and Gubbins got to work in fine style.

Meanwhile I was making similarly light work of A Confederacy of Dunces; I shall write up that book in its capacity as cricket reading for King Cricket.

Postscript: my “review” was published on King Cricket on 13 March 2017 – click here.

If anything ever happens to King Cricket, I have scraped the piece to here.

Once that was done, I read the Economist and then, as it started to get a little colder, decided to bail out while I was still enjoying myself – after all, I’d be back tomorrow for some more and wanted to clear some work from home.


A couple of meetings first thing towards the Middlesex strategy, then a few minutes before lunch to watch the cricket. I joined Brian and Judy for the first time this season, hoping to witness the completion of a couple of tons and a double century stand between Robson and Gubbins, but Robson fell on 99 with the team score on 198. But Gubbins did go on to complete his maiden county championship ton.

Again some reviving coffee at lunchtime, while watching Andy Murray snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Radek Stepanek in the first round of Roland Garros. Then I wandered over to the Upper Compton stand, in the hope of finding James Sharp of Googlies and Chinamen fame. So much for one man and a dog at county matches – there must have been a couple of hundred people up there. I asked a few people, who I recognised as Middlesex regulars, if they knew James, but they didn’t, so I e-mailed James with my location. But it transpires that James travels incognito, or at least without an e-mail device. He says he also looked out for me, but it wasn’t to be.

One of the more senior regulars up there suggested to me that Middlesex were batting so slowly that they might lose the match. I said I thought they were getting close to the position when only Middlesex could win, although the draw remained the most likely outcome.

Here’s the match scorecard, btw.

Then as 15:00 approached, I wandered back round towards the main gate, as I was expecting cousins Ted and Sue as guests. I ran into Steve Tasker along the way and we had a good chat. Then I saw Harry and Blossom Latchman, and spoke with them briefly, until I spotted Ted and Sue at the Grace Gate. The stewards did their wonderful bit of making guests feel like honoured visitors. I showed them around the lower pavilion and we watched the last few overs before tea from there.

Then I showed them the upper pavilion and Bowlers Bar, where we had a drink and watched for a while, until Ted casually mentioned that he’d like to see the museum. I thought we’d missed the closing time, but the stewards kindly let us follow the last tour in so Ted and Sue could at least see the Ashes. Then I showed them the real tennis court, which they enjoyed for a while, then round to the Presidents Box for the last few overs before stumps.

An early dinner at The Bridge House (home of the Canal Cafe Theatre) and then a walk back to their Paddington hotel, followed by a short hike back to the flat for me.

Splendid, it all was.

Lawrence After Arabia by Howard Brenton, Hampstead Theatre, 21 May 2016

It has been said that his majesty and I bear some slight resemblance… https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Feisal_I_of_Iraq.jpg

Oh dear.

It sounded like a good idea when we booked it. Such an interesting period of Middle-Eastern history. Howard Brenton, who did such an interesting job on Ai Weiwei, taking on an interesting character in T. E. Lawrence. Timely, as it is the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement this year…

The problem is, that period was also a period when English theatre was in its dull Edwardian through 1920s drawing room drama doldrums. Howard Brenton seems to think it a good idea to parody the very worst of that period’s drama for this play. Director John Dove takes the idea further with a staid, static style to the piece. There are some good actors in this play but frankly we couldn’t care less what happened to any of the characters, which doesn’t give the cast much room for manoevre.

Neither Janie nor I could tell you too much detail about the first half; we both slept through much of it. It was a deathly dull hour, even when sleep spares you much of it. It would have been a deathly dull two hours, but we agreed to cut our losses and leave at the interval. So we can’t tell you anything about the second half. I am reliably informed by Grant (someone I know from the gym who did suffer the whole thing) that it gets no better in the second half.

The Hampstead Theatre area for this play has lots of good reviews – here , so it has clearly received good reviews, not least in both of the Telegraphs. The audience certainly looked like they had all been bussed in from Telegraph reader central casting. However:

Congratulations to all of you critics for managing to stay awake sufficiently to review the piece, or alternatively for covering up your lack of wakefulness deftly in your columns.

I did wake up for the bit where Lawrence shows off the thawb, bisht and igal, the garments of a bedouin leader, gifted to him by Prince (later King) Faisal. I liked that bit. Firstly, I am said by some to resemble Faisal (see picture above); I certainly resemble him far more than the actor who plays him in this play.

Secondly I have a fine collection of natty thawbs, bestowed upon me by one of Janie’s wealthy Saudi clients. Indeed I do much of my writing at the flat wearing a thawb; especially in the summer when it is a very sensible way to dress when writing.

But I digress. The play is deathly dull. Did I mention that before? Is irritating when people waste your time simply repeating stuff they have said before? Or is it a quirky, whimsical touch, that could maintain your interest and tickle your sense of humour for a couple of hours.

On a positive note, the programme is a really interesting read. We highly recommend it. The programme is well worth the trip to Swiss Cottage and its £3.50 cover price. Just don’t waste your time and money on this turkey of a play.

Mustang, Curzon Mayfair, 20 May 2016

After an intense afternoon of baking in Borough Market, Janie and I sullied forth to the Curzon Mayfair, laden with bread, cheese and charcuterie, to see Mustang. We’d both read about it and had both agreed that this was a rare “must see movie” for us.

It was just that.

Details and reviews about Mustang are available through the usual sources – here on IMDb, for example…

…and here on Rotten Tomatoes.

We thought it really was a cracking good movie. It deserves all the plaudits and awards it is receiving. The acting is terrific and the style captivating. Janie and I were both tired, yet we were both gripped and moved from start to finish.

While I can understand why so many people are comparing it with The Virgin Suicides, I think there are so many differences in plot, context and style that the comparison is positively unhelpful.

Not least, I found The Virgin Suicides an eerie, even creepy micro story about mysterious happenings in a small town. Whereas Mustang, to me, is a far more straightforward narrative mirror, reflecting the schism in Turkish society between modern liberal and traditional conservative cultures.

Anyway, don’t listen to me; the only way to judge this film properly is to see it. Then discuss it with your companion(s) afterwards, as Janie and I did at length. In our case, over bread, cheese, charcuterie and some rather jolly red wine.

Bread Ahead Half Day Traditional French Baking Course, Borough Market, 20 May 2016

“What a monumental fougasse, Ged,”…I think that’s what she said

It doesn’t seem like nearly a whole year since DJ, very generously, gave Daisy this birthday present. A couple of half day baking course certificates for the Bread Ahead Bakery School.

Bread Certificate

By the time we got around to thinking about booking something, then realising that the conjunction of the course that we fancy with the dates that we can do and the availability of places on a course that we fancy on a date that we could do…

…you get the picture. So there we were on a sunny Friday in late May, just a few weeks ahead of Daisy’s next birthday, heading for an afternoon of baking in Borough Market.

I had in fact taken the whole day off work, playing a couple of hours of real tennis in the morning. I should have learnt my lesson a few weeks earlier about playing two consecutive hours of that game; that’s a bit more than my body fancies these days and once again the physical fatigue set in a few hours later.

Still, we were in good time getting to Borough, but I forgot to take into account Daisy’s excitement at seeing that sort of foodie market. “We’ll be late for school – we can come back and look at the market after class,” I said. That was a wise suggestion for several reasons, not least because later we would be armed with loads of bread in search of yummy stuff to eat with bread tonight.

Our teacher for the day was none other than Aiden Chapman, a self-confessed dough anarchist and bread revolutionary. This man has a passion for artisanal bread-making and a visceral hatred of the sliced white factory loaf. A little reminiscent of the real ale campaign back in the day; indeed he even uses the term “real bread”.

From what we could gather, Aiden Chapman is one of the architects of the Bread Ahead baking courses but he only occasionally delivers them, although he is the very teacher depicted on the promotional picture we were given with our certificates last year:

Bread Ahead Promo.

We are in a class of 12 to learn traditional French baking. We are to make a campagne loaf, a baguette and fougasse. We start with the campagne loaf, which takes the longest to bake. Mercifully, we are provided with a small chunk of (one day old) mother dough to use as part of our loaves, otherwise it would have needed to be a two day course.

Soon enough we have measured and added the flour, salt, water and yeast to make up the complete dough. Then we kneed the dough. All by hand, of course. At this juncture, my fatigue really kicked in, although I didn’t realise it at first. But while all the others, including Daisy, seemed to be getting exactly the texture and consistency Aiden described, I just seemed to be pushing my messy lump of stuff around the table and getting my hands covered in bread-making ingredients.

“Use the heel of your hand and really stretch that gluten,” said Aiden…

…”try standing up and doing it”…

…”like this,” he said, taking over my bundle of disengaged ingredients and with a few swift movements of his hands bringing it together as something a lot closer to everyone else’s lump of dough.

After I spent a couple more minutes emulating the teacher’s firm movements, while mumbling under my breath to Daisy that I didn’t suppose anyone else in the class had exerted themselves to the tune of two hours on the real tennis court that morning, my lump of dough looked pretty much like everyone else’s, although my hands still looked the most anarchic of the lot. Perhaps I was taking the teacher’s ideas about dough anarchy to new hands-on levels.

Next up, baguette dough for both the baguette and the fougasse. The base or “poolish” for this dough is a much easier consistency than the mother dough for the campagne loaf. Also, I suspect that the learning from the first experience helped greatly with the second. This time, I felt the consistency of my dough change in keeping with Aiden’s timings and the look of my fellow pupils’ dough. “I’m proud of you, Ged,” was one encouraging remark from teacher Aiden. “You are a complete master baker”…at least I think that’s what he said.

Anyway, the second dough was for both the baguette and the fougasse – it had never occurred to me before that these two very different breads could come from the same dough – small differences in how the dough is rested, shaped and treated before baking making all that difference to the final result. So we rested, shaped and baked our baguettes and fougasses after rescuing our campagne loaves from the ovens.

At the end of it all, we had all made three mighty artisanal breads to take a way with us and got to try Aiden’s example of each with some strong-tasting country butter and pesto.

Daisy and I then whisked around Borough Market buying some cheese, charcuterie and fruit before heading off to the pictures with all our foodie possessions.

It was a great fun afternoon.

Britten Sinfonia at Saffron Hall and Dinner With John & Mandy at The Tickell Arms, 15 May 2016

Janie and I arranged to see John and Mandy in their home town of Saffron Walden. They were keen to show off their new Saffron Hall. Luckily, we were able to find a suitable Sunday for all of us, with an appealing afternoon concert scheduled that day.

Saffron Hall 15 May 2016
Saffron Hall Addendum

Janie and I played tennis in the morning at 9:00; an hour earlier than our usual Sunday slot. I was hoping to get away at 12:00/12:15, which didn’t seem too ambitious in those circumstances. Anyway, we set off just after 12:30 hoping the traffic wouldn’t be too bad. It wasn’t.

We checked in to The Cross Keys, where I had booked a luxury room. We parked Dumbo a bit awkwardly on arrival, as a large group of cyclists/diners had taken up one of the few proper parking spaces. When John & Mandy arrived, I managed to persuade one of the group to help me by moving the bikes a little so I could park properly, which she kindly did.

John whisked us off to Saffron Hall, which is in the grounds of the County High School. We hadn’t expected quite such a large and splendid hall in the circumstances; it can hold 740 people and has been designed in a modern, acoustically excellent style.

We were warned on arrival that Alice Coote, the intended soloist singer, was ill, so had kindly been replaced at short notice by Ruby Hughes. I think we have heard Alice Coote at the Wigmore Hall more than once; her CV is hugely impressive and her voice superb.

I looked at the addendum piece of paper (see above), half expecting it to say that Ruby Hughes is one of the better singers in the lower sixth, who has almost managed to get through Dido’s Lament without pausing for breath or singing too many wrong notes…

…but actually Ruby Hughes also has a most impressive CV and her voice was also superb. There was a small change to the programme, so we got the pieces shown on the scanned piece of paper above; similar to the original programme really.

It was a bit of a Wigmore Hall outreach gig, as Mahan Esfahani played the harpsichord in the Bach Keyboard Concerto (probably our highlight) and directed the Britten Phaedra (probably our lowlight). Janie and I are seeing one of Esfahani’s recitals at The Wig next month.

We also got two encores:

  • an orchestral version of a Bartok Romanian Dance
  • a version of a Chinese Fishing Song, orchestrated by someone who works in the Britten Sinfonia office, apparently.

The Britten Sinfonia had just returned from touring China. Slightly ironic, as John and Mandy were hoping to hear from Yining (their informal protectee) who is currently in Hong Kong trying to get back to Europe from China.

After the concert, we went on to The Tickell Arms for a really pleasant early dinner. Really good food and an interesting Languedoc-based wine list. A great opportunity to have a proper catch up and chat. Highlights were a pea and rocket soup and a superb roast pork dish. Mandy started with scallops and had room for some cheese as well; good for her. John was supposed to be on an alcohol holiday but the smell of the beer in The Tickell soon tempted him to break his fast.

After dinner, we showed John and Mandy our super room at the Cross Keys, then parted company reasonably early (perhaps 21:00 or so). I played Benjy the baritone ukulele briefly and then put on some 60s music, at which point Janie and I both fell asleep. I woke up at gone midnight to realise, to my horror, that the rather loud music was still playing. Just as well that luxury room of ours is quite isolated from the other rooms.

Monday morning, we had a superb breakfast at the Cross Keys and then, following John and Mandy’s advice,  took a stroll around the stunning Bridge End Garden to walk off our breakfast. We even succeeded in entering and escaping the maze. What a pair of troopers. We won’t mention that the maze isn’t at all difficult, nor that we had to ask a couple of gardeners the way to find the maze in the first place. I admitted to one of those gardeners that needing directions to the maze is not an ideal qualification for a budding maze explorer. He replied, with a smile that “where is the maze?” is the most frequently asked question in the garden.

Enough excitement for one day – we headed back to London and spent the rest of the day picking up some items we need and sorting out some things that only seem to get sorted when you have a day off.

A delightful mini break.

The Invisible Hand by Ayad Akhtar, Tricycle Theatre, 14 May 2016


Last week, Janie and I were trying to figure out when we had booked this piece and why. The rubric just didn’t sound like our sort of thing: “thriller…American banker…a cell in rural Pakistan…every second counts…”

We even wondered whether we’d booked it by accident.

Then it started to dawn on me, slowly. Back in October, we agreed that we hadn’t been to the Tricycle in ages and wanted to go. We spotted that this play was by Ayad Akhtar. We had booked ahead at the Bush a few years ago “on the off chance” to see his play, Disgraced, and had been thrilled by it. So we decided to take a punt on seeing a preview of this play, The Invisible Hand at The Tricycle.

As a City trader might put it, we’d made a very good speculative punt back in October 2015 and cashed in on 14 May 2016.

The play is not for people of a nervous disposition. It is full of suspense. Just in case the scenario didn’t remind you of the tragic case of Daniel Pearl, the play reminds you of that terrible story early on.

Ayad Akhtar understands finance and the markets pretty well; he proved that in Disgraced. Whether or not it would effectively be possible to day trade with millions of dollars on the Karachi exchanges from a makeshift cell in rural Pakistan is neither here nor there. Even I was able to suspend belief for that conceit.

Indeed, I think Ayad Akhtar is, to some extent,  “having a laugh” with us by making the hero’s protégé a young man from Hounslow. That echoes the peculiar case of Navinder Sarao, the Hounslow chap who is believed to have made up to £30M day-trading from a semi in Hounslow and who is accused of causing the 2010 Wall Street flash crash. Finance doesn’t lend itself to laugh-out-loud in jokes, folks, but I suspect that the linkage is deliberate.

Indeed most of Ayad Akhtar’s writing seems incredibly tight and deliberate, making the audience think about complex issues from several sides while at the same time moving the plot along at pace.

The notion of the invisible hand is of course taken from Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments and also, more famously, The Wealth of Nations. It is not novel to bring the fundamental economic idea of the invisible hand into drama. But where others, such as Bruce Norris in The Low Road, for example, managed to irritate the living shit out of me with inept handling of this complex concept, this play by Ayad Akhtar provides a suitably profound and conflicted setting for ideas around the ethics of commerce, finance and money. These subjects are close to my heart, hence my Gresham lectures on Commercial Ethics and The Future of Money, so I was pleasantly surprised at Ayad Akhtar’s deft handling of these tricky subjects.

It would be unfair to say too much about how the play pans out, as thrillers aren’t so thrilling once you know what is going to happen. I am prepared to say that Janie and I both left the theatre quivering from the experience, but in a good way. I guess we’re just about on the right side of the nervous disposition line.

It probably is fair to say that the plot hinges on the uses and abuses of advanced (or inside) information. Now I’m not wanting to get anyone into trouble for insider trading, but actually Janie and I did have advanced warning that this production is a cracker. I got an e-mail from cousin Hilary the day before our visit, which said:

Saw mum yesterday .. & Michael .. took them to 1st performance of Invisible Hand at Tricycle.  Really enjoyed it.  Looking fwd to reading reviews when they come out.

Come to think of it, the reviews aren’t out yet (on writing this posting 15 May), so I suppose this Ogblog post is also advanced information. Is that the sound of drones overhead?…

Middlesex v Nottinghamshire Days 2, 3 & 4, Lord’s, 9, 10, 11 May 2016


Daisy and I were invited to spend the day with the Middlesex Committee and their Nottinghamshire guests, by dint of my advisory role regarding the Middlesex strategy. I’m not sure whether that makes us guests or hosts in such circumstances. Perhaps a cross between the two; “ghosts”?

I had enjoyed the splendour of watching from the Committee Room before, but this was a first time for Daisy. She is not a girl to be overwrought by any social situation – don’t be deceived, dear reader, by the occasional bit of dramatic/poetic licence in King Cricket match reports. So Daisy took to the event like a duck to water. Daisy Duck…hmmm.

We chatted mostly with Middlesex folk before lunch – the Nottinghamshire guests had taken pole positions in front of the big window – as guests indeed should. In that morning session they witnessed all the wickets that were to fall that day; three quick wickets to close the Nottinghamshire innings, then a good start for Middlesex, then three quick wickets before lunch.

Here’s the scorecard for the match.

Then lunch in the Committee Dining Room. A first for me as well as for Daisy and very splendid it was too. Not only the grand setting, full of history, but also a very fine meal. We both started with scallops supported by some black pudding and belly pork, followed by a splendid beef fillet with a well posh jus, rosti potatoes and trimmings, apple crumble desert and cheese. Nice wine and a little drop of port with the cheese.

After lunch, we watched the cricket from the committee dining room balcony for a while; something special to have done at least once in a lifetime. Watching Robson and Simpson bat well from up there added to the sense of occasion.

The afternoon passed quickly. We got to chat with some of the Nottinghamshire guests during that lunchtime period upstairs and then some more in the Committee Room afterwards. The cake at teatime looked splendid; Daisy tried some, whereas I had no room. Where she fits all that food in that tiny body of hers is anyone’s guess.

Daisy wandered off to call her sister and when she came back some minutes later saying, “oh, have they started again, then?” my answer was, “yes they have, but I think they might be about to finish”. I was right; it was getting gloomy and soon they came off for good.

Still, we’d seen some good cricket. We thought we’d walk back to the flat – it was barely raining, but then got caught in a heavy shower when we  were so close to home it seemed ridiculous to take cover or call a cab, but we were still far enough away to get soaked. The suit looks fine again now I’ve had it dry cleaned – thank you for asking.


In theory, a day with several strategy meetings and a chance to watch some cricket in between. In practice, a day with several strategy meetings, a pleasant beef bap in the Long Room Bar with Richard Goatley in between and no cricket whatsoever. I went home and did some of the work I’d planned to do tomorrow.


In theory, a morning with real tennis first thing and a chance to catch up on some reading and watch some cricket too, given that I’d got ahead of my work yesterday. In practice, yes to the real tennis – a good game, yes to plenty of reading, uninterrupted by cricket; indeed no cricket whatsoever. A heavy shower around 14:00 put paid to any chance of that.


A Most Unusual, Multi-Media, Transatlantic, Partially On-Air, Pop-Up Gathering by Part of the Old School Clan, 7 May 2016

I had been corresponding with my old school friend Paul Deacon on Facebook for the previous couple of days, sparked by:

As an aside, Paul asked me if Janie and I had listened to his weekly broadcast on The Grand At 101 lately. I had to admit we hadn’t. The show is on Saturday afternoons in Ontario, therefore Saturday evening here. Janie and I are almost always out on a Saturday evening – Ogblog postings passim attest to this fact. It must be more than a year; perhaps even a couple of years since we last tuned in.

However, our Saturday evening plans – feeding friends Kim, Michel and David – had, for practical reasons, been switched to Sunday lunch instead. As it turns out, Sunday 8 May is scheduled to be “sunny, hot, sit in the garden” weather, so the switch was fortuitous in many ways.

In short, we would be around, so I told Paul we’d tune in at least to some of the show. In the course of this correspondence, Paul Hamer (another old school friend) said that he would also tune in “while cooking his risotto”. At the start of the show, Paul Hamer evidenced the fact that he was listening and cooking risotto with this picture:

Paul Hamer Risotto Evidence
Photo courtesy of Paul Hamer

Indeed, Paul Deacon’s posting about his show and all the ensuing Facebook correspondence can be found here.

Once we were listening in, I mischievously sent Paul the following private message, which relates closely to the rag, tag and bobtail records we procured at the Slipped Disc all those years ago:

Ian and Janie messaging in from warm and sunny London. Would you be able to spin a 45 for us today? Ideally a Melodisc classic, such as Jolie La Ville Curepipe by the Alain Permal Mauritius Police Band, Agbogun G’Boro by Tunde Nightingale and his HighLife Boys, Bulgarian Betrothal by the Bulgarian Variety Orchestra or the classic Stop For The Music by The Nutrons. We and your listeners deserve nothing less.

Melodisc was a most unusual label – probably the first truly “Indie” label around – read more about it here.

Of course, I should have known better than to challenge Paul to play an unbelievably obscure 1960s record.

Soon after 20:00 our time, Paul Deacon broadcast a shout-out to Paul Hamer and played some rather unappetising sound effects in honour of Paul Hamer’s jumbo prawn risotto. Paul Hamer’s retort; a photo of said risotto in all its glory – makes better Facebook/Ogblog than it does radio…but it does look very appetising:

Paul Hamer Risotto Full Glory
Photo courtesy of Paul Hamer

I showed Janie the jumbo prawn risotto picture; she suggested I take a picture of the remains of our dinner and upload it. I made an executive decision not to do that. Even if people could imagine that fine meal from the messy carnage of (what had only recently been) a most impressive-looking roast duck…I wouldn’t have wanted to upstage Paul Hamer.

Then a few minutes later Paul Deacon broadcast a shout-out to me and Janie. Much to my embarrassment, he actually played Stop For The Music by The Nutrons as a request for us. “Truly terrible”, was Janie’s verdict on that obscure musical masterpiece.

When Paul (wisely) interrupted the track before the full 125 seconds of noise had completed, he played The Grand at 101 jingle. “Oh, so Paul also has a Room 101 for crappy records then?”, asked Janie. “No”, I replied, “101 is the FM broadcasting frequency of Paul’s radio station”.

To explain, if I put something on a music playlist that Janie really doesn’t like, it doesn’t simply get deleted from that playlist, it gets moved to a playlist named “Janie’s Room 101 Playlist”. The latter playlist would, in extremis, be played continuously on a loop if Janie ever were so badly behaved as to require sending to Room 101 for re-education.

Readers will, I’m sure, be unsurprised to learn that Janie’s Room 101 is more a theoretical construct or “empty threat” than anything approaching reality. She’s stronger than me for a start. Paul Deacon would be a little disappointed by some of the tracks that have ended up in Janie’s Room 101, but there’s no accounting for taste.

Meanwhile, Paul’s radio show. While simultaneously joking with several of us on Facebook, digging out obscure 1960’s Melodisc records…oh, and of course actually broadcasting a show an hour longer than his usual slot to cover for someone…

…Paul Deacon also told us that John Eltham (another old school friend of ours) would be joining him at the studio “any minute”, along with Rich Davies – yet another old school friend, who lives in Ontario near the Deacons.

I was aware that John Eltham was due to visit Paul and Rich this month, as John had mentioned the visit in correspondence with me a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t twigged that the visit was so imminent. Indeed, while the broadcast was still going on, Paul wrote:

He’s here now! Just telling us about Rohan…

…the Rohan reference is to Rohan Candappa. I suppose in particular the “telling” was about a gathering we had a few months ago to see Rohan’s wonderful one-man show, which we now learn will be going to Edinburgh this summer – click here to read about it.

So, I woke up this morning to see these wonderful postings on Paul’s Facebook Area:

Johnny & Pauly On The Grand
Johnny & Pauly On The Grand – Photo courtesy of Christine Deacon (I think) via Paul Deacon
A Grand Quartet
A Grand Quartet – Photo courtesy of the waiter via Paul Deacon

I reflect that this connected world of ours is truly marvellous. We can banter with old friends and listen to radio broadcasts across continents. Face-to-face visits across such distances are now affordable, practical realities also. But by gosh it helps if you can multi-task like Paul Deacon!