I DID Want To Go To Chelsea, Gresham Society Visit To Chelsea Physic Garden, then The Other Side Of Hope, Curzon Chelsea, 30 May 2017

When Tim Connell sent round a circular announcing a visit to the Chelsea Physic Garden, I knew immediately that the visit would be a special treat for Janie and guessed that Linda Cook would also be very interested. I was less sure about Michael and Elisabeth; as it turned out Michael was keen.

Janie was very keen and had not yet booked in any patients for that day, so we basically decided to make it a date and took the day off.

A hot date in the Chelsea Physic Garden

There were 25 to 30 of us in the Gresham Society party, I believe. The weather was very kind to us; occasionally the clouds looked a bit iffy, but there was also some sun and certainly no rain.

The Original Sloane Ranger In His Garden

We got split into two groups; our guide was Anne, who seemed very well informed and proved to be good company.

To my mind, the best plant in the garden was Catharanthus roseus (Madagascan or Rosy periwinkle), which yields natural remedies for childhood leukaemia, increasing survival rates by orders of magnitude. Yet the most popular plant amongst our cynical, Gresham Society group seemed to be Veratrum viride (Indian Poke), which induces profuse vomiting and which some native American tribes use to choose their leader; on a “last candidate to throw up” basis. Going back to traditional, natural methods is sometimes a very good idea.

Janie asked Anne zillions of questions, many of which seemed to me to be more about the poisonous, nasty plants, rather than the medicinal, nice ones. Even more worryingly, I thought I heard Janie ask a few of times, “would you be able to taste this if you added it to food?” Perhaps I am mistaken about that. But when we visited the bookshop before leaving, Janie bought a small book on medicinal plants and a larger book on the poisonous ones. I think I’ll eat out for a while.

We enjoyed a spot of lunch/high tea at the Tangerine Dream cafe within the garden, which made for a very convivial conclusion to the outing. We always enjoy spending time with the Gresham Society crowd.

By the time Janie had concluded her book shopping, I thought we might be running a bit late for the movies, but I had sort-of forgotten that the car journey from the Chelsea Physic Garden to the Curzon Chelsea was a very short one.

So we had time to book Janie’s birthday treat (a preview of the new V&A wing) before stepping in to The Other Side Of Hope. We thought this was a great movie – very interesting, at times amusing, at times shocking. It is about a Syrian refugee who lands-up seeking asylum and then working as an illegal in Helsinki.

Here’s a trailer:

Highly recommended.

Then we went back to the flat to round off our very enjoyable day with a dinner of delicious leftovers from the weekend and salad. I prepared it all, not allowing Janie anywhere near the kitchen today, she had done her bit over the weekend.  Continue reading I DID Want To Go To Chelsea, Gresham Society Visit To Chelsea Physic Garden, then The Other Side Of Hope, Curzon Chelsea, 30 May 2017

An Evening Watching Daytime Television? Impossible, 3 January 2017

I don’t watch daytime television very often.

I define daytime television as programmes that are designed for a daytime audience and regularly, probably exclusively, broadcast during normal working hours. Catching up on TV news while I am at the gym or following cricket matches during the day through the TV don’t count as daytime television by this definition.

So, in the five years 2012 to 2016, I guess I had watched daytime television twice.

The first instance was around 2012 or 2013. Hugh Rycroft, one of my old writer friends from NewsRevue, who now devises quiz-based game shows, mentioned to me at one of our Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinners back then, that he had devised a new show, Tipping Point, a daytime quiz, being broadcast on ITV.

“I’ll take a look at that”, I said, meaning it.  “I don’t think Tipping Point is your sort of quiz show”, said Hugh, meaning it.

I looked up the timing of the show and resolved to watch it the next time I was at the gym in the afternoon at that hour. Thus I took a look at Tipping Point, as promised. Hugh was right; it’s not my sort of quiz show. The conceit of the show is a facsimile of a coin pusher arcade machine, for which contestants win tokens to play and from which they get (or fail to get) prizes.

My second instance of watching daytime TV in recent years was Bargain Hunt in 2014, when Z/Yen’s practice manager, Linda Cook together with her friend and Z/Yen alumna Marie Logan, appeared on the show. We wrote this big moment up for the Now and Z/Yen blog – click here. As it happens, this programme’s momentous first broadcast was on a Friday when I had no meetings, so I actually watched the programme when it was first shown.

I don’t think Bargain Hunt is my type of programme either, although it was great to see people I knew so well on that show.

But let’s be honest, whether or not these programmes are my kind of show is rather beside the point. They must be a lot of people’s kind of show, because they are phenomenally successful. According to Wikipedia at the time of writing (January 2017):

  • Tipping Point had 10 series and 508 episodes (at 6 January 2017);
  • Bargain Hunt had 39 series and 1264 episodes (22 January 2016 figures).

Anyway, I saw Hugh again at this year’s Ivan Shakespeare Christmas Dinner – click here. He mentioned that he had devised a new quiz show, which would start  broadcasting on the New Year Bank Holiday Monday; Impossible.

“I’ll take a look at that”, I said, meaning it. Indeed, I intended to watch it on that Bank Holiday Monday.

Come Tuesday evening, after finishing work, I was pondering my evening (probably planning to do some Ogblogging), when it occurred to me that I had clean forgotten to watch Impossible; indeed I hadn’t even set the vid to record it.

But these days, what used to be impossible (seeing a programme despite such neglect) is now more than possible, thanks to iPlayer.

Thus I spent a chunk of Tuesday evening watching daytime television.

I did spend some evening time not all that long ago watching bizarre (in this case comedy) telly on the computer, in bizarre circumstances, but that’s another story, click here for it.

The conceit of the show Impossible is that all the quiz questions are constructed to have three rather than two types of answer: correct, incorrect or impossible. Impossible answers fail some aspect of logic in the question. For example, the name of a British film star would be an impossible answer to a question starting, “which American film star…”  Impossible answers get contestants eliminated or make them lose their accumulated winnings, adding an additional dimension of pressure to a time pressure-based quiz.

Surprisingly, I rather like Impossible. As I said to Hugh in a congratulatory e-mail:

…I liked it and enjoyed watching it far more than I can ever remember enjoying watching such a programme.

The format is clever without being too clever.  I am tempted to watch it again…

Hugh seemed pleased with this note and even suggested that he plans to use the phrase “clever without being too clever” in his elevator pitches henceforward; which surely means that I get a significant share of the (presumably substantial) earnings from successful “clever without being too clever” programmes, for ever.

Joking apart, my fear, though, is that the very fact that I liked Impossible might be the kiss of death for it. I don’t suppose I am a barometer for successful daytime TV shows; I might be an anti-barometer for them.

Indeed, on reflection, I’m not sure that Hugh should want his shows to be “clever without being too clever” at all. The phrase reminds me of Spike Jones’s explanation for why his hugely talented comedy orchestra was not more successful:

“We’re too sophisticated for corny people and too corny for sophisticated people.”

Still, I am rooting for the TV show Impossible. I sincerely hope it gets the hundreds or thousands of episodes it deserves.

Z/Yen Team/Old Team Evening At The Jugged Hare, Chiswell Street, 18 February 2015

OK, this is me being complete rubbish.

The only e-mail communication I can find on this evening is the following note from Linda Cook to me and Michael.

Just to let you know I have organised a night out with the team/old team on 18 February if you are about.

Booked a table at Jugged Hare in Chiswell Street (at Steph’s suggestion) http://www.thejuggedhare.com from 18.15.  Expecting about 7/8 people.

Linda

It’s in my diary. I clearly remember going. I remember enjoying the evening a lot. Good size of group, got to talk with more or less everyone who turned up, nice place.

Beyond that, a blank. I need help.

Over to other Z/Yensters (current and alum) to fill in the blanks. Otherwise the blanks will remain.

Update: 

Steph e-mailed in to say:

I’ve got nothing with which to fill the blanks, I’m afraid! I just remember a very pleasant evening and tables made of wine barrels… (I think).

I also spoke with Ben about it and he said more or less the same thing as Steph.

Linda suggests a reason for our poor memories, but then adds some helpful material:

Maybe too much red wine.  Well, I can’t quite remember either…

…Ben, Richard, Ellie, Steph, Mary, you, me…Clive Hyman definitely…

…not sure if Mark, Cristiano and Sonya were there (have acceptances from them but…)

Yes, I recall having a good long chat with Richard and Ellie that evening in particular. But it was one of those evenings when you get to speak with everyone for a while. Like musical chairs but without the music.

Further updates will be gratefully received.

Samba Drumming – Z/Yen Team Event, St Helen’s Place, 11 May 2010

Z/Yen team events on the whole tended to be sports-oriented affairs. Cricket, tennis, horse racing…sometimes watching, sometimes playing, sometimes both.

Becky Dawson, our resident musician-cum-administrator, suggested that something musical as an activity event would make a welcome change. We agreed, suggesting that if she organised it, we’d do it.

So, presumably through her musical connections, Becky found us the Inspire Works people – click here for their website – and suggested Samba Drumming as something that would be fun and manageable for us.

Some seemed to take to the big drums…
…better than others!

There was a Now & Z/Yen Blog piece about it at the time – click here for that piece on the Z/Yen site

…or here for a scrape of the piece in case the Z/Yen site piece moves.

I recall personally getting on better with the shakers than the big drums

I also recall that everyone had a really good time, both while drumming and with the celebratory drinks that followed.

There are quite a few more pictures, all thanks to Monique Gore if I recall correctly, which are available through the Flickr album link below:

Samba Drumming 001