A Calm Twixtmas And An Indulgent Memory-Laden New Year’s Eve, 31 December 2017

Janie and I had a quiet time between Christmas and New Year.

We both did a bit of work, especially on the Wednesday.

I had a music lesson by Skype at the house on the Thursday; we even tried (but failed) to liaise and have a Skype with Pady later that day.

On the Friday, we had the next door neighbours – Joy, Barry and Marcie – in for drinks, nibbles and chat. They even requested a short recital on the baritone uke, so I’m clearly not driving them nuts with the instrument…

…yet…

…just wait until I get a pickup & amplify my sound up to eleven.

We followed the Ashes test by night/early morning for much of this period – England’s outside chance of pulling off a consolation win soon petered out into a bore draw on a dull as dishwater Melbourne pitch – what a shocker this tour has been for England generally.

We also watched a few things on the TV – a rare indulgence for us. Those things were:

  • Dumbo, in honour of my car and also because Janie had never seen it before. I hadn’t seen it for ages and loved it again. Janie fell asleep once the elephants started bullying Dumbo and his mum;
  • Shaun The Sheep The Movie – we both loved it;
  • The Look Of Love – as I often play real tennis with Carl Snitcher, who was Paul Raymond’s right hand man and therefore a character in this movie, it seemed only polite to dig out the movie and have a look. The movie was fun and interesting;
  • Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father – on Kim’s recommendation. Took a trial subscription to Netflix to watch it. Good in parts. We both tired of it by the end;
  • Bowie: the Man Who Changed The World – we found this one on Netflix. Janie had wanted to see it for ages. We both found it interesting and enjoyable but gosh it jumps around a lot and there are some telling gaps in the story.

Janie wanted an indulgent evening in on Sunday and had procured some special treat goodies for the purpose. Her favourite is foie gras, which doesn’t really please me. Earlier this year she mistakenly suggested that I didn’t like caviar, so decided to treat me to a bit of that – the Ossetra variety, since you asked.

I tried to put on a nonchalant “this is what we do” expression for the photo…

“Oh yes, we eat and drink like this all the time”

…whereas Janie went for the more blokey “this is a bit of alright” body language:

“‘ave it.”

Unexpectedly, the caviar induced an involuntary memory in me, which I wrote up the following week – click here or below:

Strange Case Of Dr Green And Mr Knipe…And Beluga Caviar And Scotch Whisky And A Bust Of Hitler, c22 December 1981

Although we hadn’t intended to stay up past midnight, we were so chilled and took so much time over our indulgence, that we heard the sound of fireworks and realised that we had, inadvertently, actually seen in the New Year for the first time in ages.

So perhaps I should have dated this piece 1 January 2018.

 

24 Hours Of (Mostly) Real Tennis Excess Plus Reflections On 365 Days Of Reasonable Success, 21 and 22 December 2017

I mentioned my occasional role as a last minute substitute in my real tennis reflections at the end of 2016:

One In A Million: Reflections On Real Tennis At The End Of My First Calendar Year, 25 December 2016

…on the last two playing days of the 2017 year that role went into overdrive. I had booked to play at 11:00 on Friday 22nd, which was doubles – not what I would normally book but I think it was the only available slot on that last day of 2017 when I booked it.

In the end, though, I was asked if I could fill in at 16:00 on Thursday, then if I could play doubles for 90 minutes before that Thursday singles, then if I could stay on for an hour of “senior” doubles after my Friday booking, which had been switched from doubles back to singles.

In short, it isn’t just my clients who book up too much to do in the run up to Christmas and then cancel at the last minute. The real tennis community are masters at it.

Also, in short, that meant four-and-a-half hours of real tennis in 24 hours. That was a bit mad of me. But strangely it all went OK. In fact I improved my singles handicap by a good few notches during that 24 hours.

The 150 minute marathon on Thursday was a very exhausting idea, especially as the doubles as well as the singles was high grade, above my handicap stuff.

I drove home, then wandered round to the Ladbroke Arms to meet Kristof, whom I had met at Brian Eno’s economics shindig a few week’s earlier:

An Evening Of Economics With Eno Comics, Economy, 20 November 2017

Kristof is a very interesting chap of Hungarian origin who is a fund manager by profession, yet reads books and had even read The Price Of Fish since we last met.

When he arrived at the Ladbroke Arms, Kristof immediately apologised for his appearance. He was wearing a leather jacket, jeans and a dark-coloured beanie hat. Kristof explained that he was going to a punk party after our drink. I explained that his appearance was not entirely dissimilar to mine, which I consider to be normal attire for meeting a friend in a local pub. Here is a  reconstruction of the look, taken by Daisy a couple of days later in Victoria:

Me, outside the Albert in Victoria a couple of days later, modelling “that” look

We talked about life, the universe and just about everything. Topics (beyond The Price Of Fish) ranged from Brexit to the writings of George Mikes to our life stories & therefore (naturally) Ogblog.

But, sadly, Kristof and I failed to solve the world’s most wicked problems over a couple of small glasses of wine before Kristof went off in his “costume”. Must have been that extra 90 minutes or so of real tennis doubles that dulled my thinking that evening. Hopefully we’ll try again some time soon.

Back to Lord’s the next morning for a couple of hours more tennis. Bizarrely, the MCC now live streams and saves the games some days, so if you want a quick (or slow) butchers hook at this stuff, here is the stream of my Friday marathon – just the two hours from c2:02 (warming up for singles) until c4:05. The “senior doubles” after our hour of singles (we both stayed on) is with gentlemen who are both just over or approaching 90 years of age.

Unfortunately, the sound stream wasn’t working that day. so you can’t hear all the moaning and groaning – mostly from my opponents, naturally:

As for reflections on my 2017 progress; numerically it all looks and feels a bit strange. I got my handicap down to 60.9 by June, then it flew back up again for three months and then I whittled it back down to that 60.9 figure by the end of the year.

Apparently this pendulum thing happens; partly natural volatility, partly (I suspect) a bit of a seasonal effect but mostly because performance actually does plateau or even go backwards while you try to progress to playing “proper” shots rather than simply getting the ball back.

More importantly, I’d had lots of fun and continue to really enjoy my real tennis. Ogblog highlights of the year include the following, the first two of which have some very short video clips with sound. If you persevere you’ll encounter some real stars, including Rob Fahey (real tennis’s equivalent of Rod Laver) and even Paul McCartney:

Tie Me Boomerang Down, Preparing The MCC Team For The Boomerang Cup, Lord’s, 10 December 2017

An Active Day Off – Pole Dancing And Real Tennis, 27 November 2017

Big Match Weekend At Lord’s Part One: MCC v HAC Real Tennis Match, 21 July 2017

An Exploratory Mission Into Deepest, Darkest Essex, Prested Hall and Chelmsford, 27 & 28 June 2017

Here, There and Everywhere: Rather A Lot Of Real Tennis In Two Days and A Star-Struck Encounter, 14 & 15 June 2017

Three Courts In One Day, 29 April 2017

Anyway, here is a link to my 2017 singles results sheets with the names redacted.

I am now in the 53rd percentile of all players worldwide who have ever been logged on the system (over 10,800 of them). More realistically, I am now in the 67th percentile of those who play regularly. That makes me about one standard deviation from the norm. Let’s hope no-one latches on to “Standard Deviation” as my nickname. I think I’d sooner be the Galloping Bard or the Flying Ferret.

An Amazing Week Of Grazing And Moral Mazing, 1 to 7 December 2017

It’s a cracker

It’s December, so of course the eating and drinking goes into overdrive.

Starting on the very first day of December; lunch with Michael Mainelli, Brendan May and John Lloyd at the Guildhall. Great to catch up with those guys, it brought back to my mind a quite interesting 2003 evening in a TV studio with Brendan and John – now Ogblogged – click here.

The next day, cousins Jacquie and Hilary Briegal came to Noddyland for a late lunch that morphed into early evening. Jacquie couldn’t resist bringing some of her famous chopped herring for us, although, as any fule no, chopped herring cannot take part in “herring of the year” contests, which in any case have to be held at Jacquie’s place – click here for the most recent example.

In any case, herring didn’t form part of the Noddyland meal, which comprised smoked salmon nibbles followed by Janie’s (Daisy’s) famous wasabi beef fillet dish and finally danish apple cake. We hadn’t seen Jacquie and Hils for over a year; it was great to see them again and have a chance to reciprocate Jacquie’s warm hospitality.

As usual, Daisy had massively over-catered, so I was able to lunch on some left over beef, sauce and potatoes couple of times during the week, including Thursday…

…which was probably just as well, given the tardiness of the Cafe Rogues meal in Holborn that evening, at the comedy writers Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinner.

I reported last year on the ruthless efficiency with which the venue forced us to pre-order and the chaos and long waits that nevertheless ensued. Last year, it was Jonny Hurst who took the brunt of the tardiness, waiting about an hour longer than everyone else for his main course. This year, Jonny was again such a victim, but I too was one of the chosen people for this indignity. Perhaps we weren’t served a full hour later than everyone else, but surely at least half an hour later.

I suppose you can chat, drink and even be ruined while you wait for food

To add insult to indigestion, four of us were served our deserts some 30 minutes after everyone else. Jonny escaped this time, but I was caught twice – along with Jasmine, Barry and John for the lengthy dessert desert.

Still, everyone seemed to be in a good mood. Nine of us gathered this time; me, John Random, Jonny Hurst, Jasmine Birtles, Colin Stutt, Hugh Rycroft, Gerry Goddin, Mark Keagan and Barry Grossman.

Jasmine and John brought crackers. John Random’s were very special; he had doctored some real crackers, emblazoning them with a picture of Michael Buerk and describing them as Moral Maze crackers.

With Jasmine’s crackers, we played our regular Christmas game of trying to work out the feed line from the punchline of the corny cracker jokes…with limited success this year as the jokes were so corny. Examples:

A. A monkey burp.

Q. What’s silent and smells of banana?

A. Mrs Sippi

Q. Who is the most famous married woman in America?

But John had doctored his crackers with moral maze dilemmas to replace the corny jokes. Example:

Q. What do you get if you cross a sheep with a kangaroo?

A. A series of far-reaching ethical questions that go to the very heart of modern genetics.

Tut tut if you read that question and thought the answer was, “a wooly jumper”.

Jasmine and John pulled…
…which left Jasmine grappling with a tricky moral dilemma.

Traditional quizzing after dessert…or in the case of the four of us sorely neglected souls…during the dessert.

Colin Stutt again did a warm up game, taking the best jokes from the fringe for the last few years and seeing if we could remember the punchlines or construct good/better punchlines ourselves. I reckon I did a reasonable job on 10-12 out of 30 of them, actually knowing the answer to only a couple.

Mark, the holder of the Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Trophy, naturally led the main event quiz. I’m usually in with a chance when Mark writes the quiz but so are one or two other people. In a close run contest this year:

Mark had bubble-wrapped the trophy for safe-keeping…
…let’s hope that Jonny also treats the magnificent artefact with the respect it deserves.

Yes, the place was ridiculously noisy. Yes, the service was poor, except when it was terrible. But at Christmastime, almost everywhere is thus. These Ivan Shakespeare gatherings of good old friends are always lively, witty evenings that make me happy; that is the bit that really matters.

Dinner And Music At Simon Jacobs’s Place, 25 November 2017

Janie and I spent a very enjoyable evening with Simon Jacobs at his place.

We chatted before dinner about a multitude of subjects; mutual friends, old times, cultural matters and a few intractable world problems which we three would be able to tract in a jiffy if only “they” (whoever they are) would let us take charge of the world.

Simon then suggested we eat, starting with a yummy, bright green vegetable soup.

Simon prefaced the serving of the soup dish with an anecdote about a nurse, who had told Simon emphatically that lightly-cooked broccoli is a super-food that cures and/or staves off almost all known ills.

“Ah, so this is broccoli soup, I suppose?” said I.

“No”, said Simon, “as it happens, this is watercress and spinach soup”.

Clearly Simon is utterly cavalier about his health and that of his guests. Tish.

Next up, an extremely tasty Lancashire Hot Pot, with thyme as the prevailing aromatic herb complementing the well-balanced mix of lamb and vegetables. Rounded off with a leafy salad.

Then to the musical part of the evening. Simon tried out a few of the songs he is preparing for that tricky second album. It will be the follow up to Simon’s highly acclaimed first album, Circle Line, the launch of which we attended some weeks ago – click here or below:

Simon Jacobs, Circle Line, Album Launch Showcase, Old Paradise Yard, 10 September 2017

But back to the preview pieces for the second album. I would tell you all about the amazing tracks and snippets we heard…

…but if I did tell you, I’d have to kill you, which seems a little excessive in these circumstances and also might reduce Simon’s potential buying audience once the second album is actually released…

…just rest assured, patiently, that Simon’s second album will be well worth the wait, but wait we all must.

Here, just to keep you patient, is an unplugged song from Simon’s YouTube channel. This song isn’t destined for Simon’s second album, nor is it on his first album, it’s just meandering aimlessly around Simon’s living room, like an untamed pet:

In turn, I tried out one or two songs I have been dabbling with on my baroq-ulele, including my forthcoming performance piece for the Gresham Society soiree.

Simon and I swapped tips and cutting remarks like two old mohels on a mission, while Janie gently reminded us that it was getting late and that all three of us probably wanted to hunker down to follow the test match before turning into pumpkins at midnight.

As we left, Simon expressed his sense of foreboding about the test match while Janie and I expressed how much we had enjoyed our evening.

Dinner At Oklava With The Friends And Friends Of The Friends, 21 November 2017

Tom Friend arranged a surprise birthday dinner at Oklava for his mum, Toni.

Janie and I had eaten at Oklava in July, with Toni and Lisa, at the latter’s well-chosen behest, click here. We hadn’t realised that Toni and then Tom in turn had taken a shine to the place and eaten there more than once since.

How Tom kept the event secret goodness only knows, but Toni was genuinely surprised to see us sitting there in the restaurant waiting for them when she and Tom arrived; she genuinely thought she was going out for an evening just with Tom.

Unexpectedly, a cast of thousands…well, eight actually. From left to right behind me and Janie: Lisa, Toni, Sophie, Claire, Mike and Tom

On our previous visit we’d enjoyed some sort of special set meal based on some award-winning dishes. On this occasion we tried a more regular style of Oklava set menu (if you can describe any of this food as regular):

A couple of unusual looking wines caught my eye; so unusual that the waitress suggested that I taste them before choosing them. The white was a dry muscat; perhaps she thought I was expecting something sweeter but it was in fact more or less what I expected and a very interesting wine.

The waitress warned me that the red, a blend of noble grapes, was quite a lot sweeter than one might expect. On that description, I anticipated the taste of communion/kiddish wine – heaven forbid – but of course it was a very interesting blend, a little sweeter (perhaps through the riper Turkish growing conditions) but well-suited to the Turkish style food.

The food was excellent again at Oklava. The chilli roast cauliflower was a highlight for me (Janie didn’t like that one much), but the pomegranate glazed lamb breast and yoghurt was a hit for both of us.

Boys talk? Claire can hardly contain her excitement while Mike and I hold forth, hence the half-closed eyes
Girls talk? Actually I think this was Toni’s “happy birthday to you” moment
Thanks to Janie for the pictures…apart from the top, waiter-assisted one, with all of us.

It was a superbly convivial evening. Lisa, Janie and I hadn’t met Mike, Claire or Sophie before, yet it felt like a gathering of eight long-standing friends from the word go.

Well done and thanks, Tom, for gathering all of us together; it was a very enjoyable evening.

Rock ‘N’ Rajasthan Evening, Mostly Alleyn’s Alumni, 14 November 2017

When I got word that Rich “The Rock” Davis was to be over from Canada for a short while in mid November, I thought I’d probably miss out on the resultant gathering. I explained to John Eltham that I only had the one available evening throughout the period on offer.

But this was one of those occasions when the timings went fortuitously. Not only could I make the appointed day, but it transpired that Nigel Godfrey would be visiting from New Zealand and that Paul Hamer would be visiting from an even more remote and obscure corner of the Great Dominions; Southampton.

Indeed, also by happy chance, Paul Hamer’s earlier engagement in London was in Paddington, within spitting…well, in truth, walking, distance of my flat.

So Paul and I spent an enjoyable couple of hours late afternoon catching up at the flat; it’s only been 37+ years. Chat was interspersed with the odd business call and a short baroq-ulele recital by yours truly, before we journeyed across London to join the others at the Walrus and Carpenter.

Paul Hamer, top left, a few hours after the baroq-ulele recital, still visibly, profoundly moved by the heavenly harmonies, while those who sadly missed out on the music are smiling in blissful ignorance

It ended up quite a large gathering this time, with a few people I hadn’t seen for decades; in particular Justin Sutton (peering from behind Perry Harley in the above picture), with whom I chatted at some length at The Walrus, plus David Leach, who arrived towards the end of the Walrus session.

A rare sighting of David Leach, third left, on the “water polo quartet” side of the table

I was also graced by a brief audience with Sir Nigel Godfrey at the Walrus and Carpenter. I had always thought that his gong was for services to the beauty pageant industry. I hadn’t realised that he is actually “The Right Reverend Sir Nigel Godfrey”, presumably honoured for clerical services to the New Zealand laity.

Nigel explained how irritating it is for people, like himself, who wish to use multiple titles, that on-line drop down boxes tend to offer only “The Right Reverend” or “Sir” but not “The Right Reverend Sir”. A tad first world, that problem, but I hope I looked suitably doleful and I audibly sympathised.

A characteristically low-key appearance by The Right Reverend Sir Nigel Godfrey, third left in the above photo (half-tucked behind Rohan Candappa) and (in theory) third right in the photo above that, entirely obscured by Leigh Parkes.

Once the Rajasthan eating session was in full sway, Nigel also chimed in with a story about a near-disaster with window-leaning and errant train doors on the journey to school, back in the day, before the health and safety brigade quite ludicrously took such character-forming matters out of the hands of school-children. The resulting conversation about such disasters (real, near and imagined) was in the worst possible taste and those of us who were laughing should be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves. Really.

There was also a fair bit of reminiscing about Andrew and Fiona Levinson (more “Andrew” at the Lisa Pavlovsky end of the table, more “Fiona” at the David Wellbrook end), which encouraged me to up a charming video of the three of us (me, Andrew and Fiona) when we were very little indeed – click here.

I shall also delve into my diaries as soon as I get the chance to recover some other memories of train journeys to school (with Justin Sutton, Andrew Levinson and Rupert Jefferies) and also at least one teenage adventure with the Levinson siblings, coincidentally very near the scene of this evening’s “crime” – the old Billingsgate Fish Market (just across the road). For the latter, I have photographs.

Everyone seemed to be in good form and good spirits; as usual the evening flew by. I should also mention Phil (one of John Eltham’s colleagues, top left in the final photo above) who joined us again this time and is excellent company. Also a thank you to John Eltham for organising, as always.

Plus a massive thank you to Perry Harley – it was great fun sitting next to you again this time, Perry – even more fun watching you deploy your accounting skills so diligently and indeed so very many times over, to avoid successfully the dreaded bodmin, ensuring fair play and fair pay.

Nightmare In Noddyland, Halloween Night, 31 October 2017

Here in the Hanger Hill Garden Estate (also known as Noddyland) polite children with polite parents dress up and come around “trick or treating” for Halloween, but in truth it is all smiles and treats, no tricks…

…or is it?

The Noddyland Witch Starts Scheming Early For Halloween

Here is the sound of the Noddyland witch preparing for Halloween:

Janie loves Halloween and plans for it well ahead of time.

No Jack O’Lantern Here: Janie Made A Very Girly Jackie O’Lantern

Even our pink flamingo, Flossie Pom Pom, wants a piece of the action.

Flossie Pom Pom, our pink flamingo, getting ready for Halloween…

So keen was Janie to participate in the local Halloween fun, she rejected the opportunity to see my good friend, Rohan Candappa, pilot his new performance piece at The Cockpit Theatre – for the review of my evening click here.

I think the rest of the story is told better with pictures than words – with thanks to Janie and local parents for these pictures.

Matching witch hats
Scary little visitors
Coral hair?
Do you want something, children?
Ah, yes, of course, sweet treats
Forming an orderly queue?
The Noddyland witch with some sweet children…
…and finally with some scary creatures of the night

Sunday Lunch/Dinner With Escamillo Escapillo, Lavender, Sue and Alan, The Plough At Cadsden, 15 October 2017

What could be nicer than a family gathering in rural Buckinghamshire for the Sunday repast?

Escamillo Escapillo and Lavender suggested a few possible dates to us. We chose this one because Escamillo’s aunt and uncle, Sue and Alan, were going to be staying with them. We’d met Sue and Alan at the wedding and got on well with them, so this seemed like a great opportunity for a gathering.

The youngsters chose The Plough at Cadsden – just a few miles up the road from their place. Neither Daisy nor I had heard of it, but according to its web site it is “probably the most famous Pub in England” and “[t]he Pub of Choice of Prime Ministers for many decades”.

Indeed, Escamillo took great pride in reporting that The Plough was the very pub in which David Cameron, famously, accidentally abandoned one of his children, a few days after Escamillo and Lavender’s wedding. Daisy and I made a mental note of how many people were in our party and therefore how many people we would needed to count as we left, to ensure that we were still complete.

We had a short debate on what to call the meal in question; lunch or dinner. With three Lancastrians and three southerners at the table, that match was always going to end as a draw. Given the portion sizes in The Plough. it was basically going to be a one proper meal day for all of us, whatever we called it.

We all decided to have a main and a desert, on the advice of Escamillo and Lavender who warned us about the portion sizes and suggested that the desserts were especially sproggy and good; they were right. The main course specials of the day revolved around roasts (surprise surprise on a Sunday). Daisy plumped for lamb while I plumped for pork.  The others went for beef (mostly) or chicken. I went for the death by chocolate brownie and ice cream dessert which was very yummy and was the majority choice. Daisy went for apple pie and custard, which she said was also very good.

At one point Patrick Moore came into the conversation. I mentioned that I had interviewed him in my youth and that I did not remember him being all that impressive. Daisy told me off afterwards for the unnecessarily churlish-sounding comment. In fact, a few days later, I dredged my memory, diary and recording from that 1981 interview, Ogblogging my Patrick Moore experience, including the recording of the interview and including a recantation of my “not all that impressive” opinion – click here.

We talked a lot about cricket over lunch; Alan and Sue are very keen on it. Their reminiscences about the Lancashire leagues of old and their thoughts about the London Cricket Trust project, with which I’m now involved, were very interesting and insightful. We also all talked about county championship and test match cricket rather a lot.

Here is a photograph of all of us at table after the meal, with thanks to the nice waitress.

I am delighted to report that, on leaving The Plough, we took numerical stock and all six of us were still together. No-one got abandoned in The Plough or even in the grounds outside it when we all drove off. This I think proves beyond doubt that we could run the country better than David Cameron and his bunch of cronies.

Anyway, we’d had a really enjoyable meal and get together. I hope we get a chance to get together again soon.

A Return Visit To Paradise by way of Kensal Green, 8 October 2017

No comedy moustache this time…
…nor festive cracker hats!

We returned to the scene of last year’s Christmas festivities (those December 2016 ones depicted above).

It was almost the same group of us too, except was around and Micky joined us this time.

The place is probably better suited to a regular Sunday lunch feast rather than the Christmas feast. The regular Sunday lunch is gargantuan enough, but within a tolerance that doesn’t require several days of overindulgence-recovery-time.

Good food too. Janie and I both especially enjoyed the crispy belly pork. I found the Sunday roast trimmings (not least Yorkshire pudding) went surprisingly well with it. Yummy starters too – mine was a seared tuna salad, Janie’s a crab thing.

But of course it was the company that really made the day so good. Even after Micky, Max and Kim had gone, Janie and I stuck around chewing the fat with DJ until long after dark. Winter is setting in!

Class Of ’92 Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinner, Café Rouge Holborn, 5 October 2017

Partly inspired by my chance encounter 18 months ago (and subsequent re-encounters) with Chris Stanton at the real tennis court at Lord’s

…partly inspired by the fact that many of us who gather for these Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinners have been hanging around NewsRevue now for 25 years…

…John Random decided to theme this get together around the notion “Class of ’92”.

I didn’t realise that John had actually persuaded Chris Stanton to come along this time, which was a very pleasant surprise. Chris brought a couple of ringbinder files with scripts from his 1992 runs, including the late Spring run, directed by John Random, in which I (or rather, my material) made its NewsRevue debut:

Seeing those files, it made me realise what a challenging job it must be for performers to do NewsRevue. The sheer volume of scripts, the mixture of sketches and songs, the changes to the show every week…

…Chris showed me one running order, for example, in which there was an unbroken sequence of fourteen or fifteen pieces in which he appeared.

John Random brought along a photo album which had lots of photos of NewsRevue types…even one of me and Janie from our very early days together…most people in the room were represented by at least one photo.

Mark Keagan was there, as was Barry Grossman, Nick R Thomas, Colin Stutt and Gerry Goddin, the latter of whom produced a particularly fiendish version of his “quiz” game and tortured us with it at the end of the evening.

Prior to this evening, when chatting at Lord’s, Chris Stanton had been threatening to have a bonfire of his old scripts. Part of my purpose was to help John Random to rescue this treasure trove for posterity. But by the end of this evening, Chris explained that he did not want to part with his scripts and had no intention of destroying them.

On the way home, my song “Coppers are Dressed as Hippies” popped into my head, as did the notion that I too have a ringbinder file at home with correspondence and one or two old running orders and programmes.

In the morning, I copied/wrote up “coppers” (click link here or above) and found a running order, programme and writers’ newsletter from Paula Tappenden’s summer run; the run that followed the John Random/Chris Stanton one.

In some ways, I thought, I had blooped by not bringing those artefacts to the evening. But in other ways, it seems more fitting that I use Ogblog as a medium, following up on the Class of ’92 evening, to circulate copies of my 1992 artefacts, shown below:

  • the programme for that Paula Tappenden run (late June through August 1992);
  • the running order from week four (late July 1992);
  • John Random’s unusually short writers’ newsletter w/e 31 July 1992…who was your visitor from Idaho, John? Do tell.

Postscript. In response to my request for details on the mystery visitor from Idaho, I received the following beautifully-crafted missive from John Random a week or so later:

…the friend from Idaho was my former flatmate Janet.

One of my biggest regrets in life is that I didn’t spend the whole of 1986 simply writing down everything she ever said. Here was comedy gold, narrative gold right under my nose and I didn’t recognize it for what it was.

Without ever trying to be funny, without even KNOWING she was being funny, Janet contrived to be one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. This was chiefly because everyone she’d ever known was either barking mad or the victim of some cruel yet ludicrous twist of Fate.

I recall she had a pioneer ancestor who was run over by the very train that brought his family out West to join him. Apparently, he had started the celebrations a little too early and was a little too merry by the time the train pulled in.

Not that this should be taken as meaning she was catty or scabrous. On the contrary, she was a big motherly woman of the sort you might get if you crossed Jenni Murray with Claire Rayner.

Sadly, Janet’s not much of a writer, so I have very few letters of hers, and she seldom even e-mails. However, she recently broke a seven-year silence indicating that she might be coming over in a week or two. I do hope so.

In my grateful reply to John, I described Janet’s interruption to his newsletter writing that week as John’s “person from Porlock” moment.

My own offerings from that Paula Tappenden Week Four are all now up on Ogblog, btw, all clickable below:

If anyone wants a better quality copy of the artefacts, just message me and they can be whizzing your way in next to no time.