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

Gresham Society AGM and Dinner, National Liberal Club, 4 February 2016

A convivial evening at the National Liberal Club; the Gresham Society AGM and dinner. Michael Mainelli said he was going to miss not only the pre-AGM drinks but even the AGM, so suggested that I leave the office ahead of him.  But by the time I had got there and made his excuses to everyone, he arrived; a good 5-10 minutes before the AGM started.

In the hands of Tim Connell, an AGM is neither painful nor lengthy. So there was time for more chat between the AGM and dinner. Several people were complimentary about my maiden baritone ukulele performance at December’s Gresham Society soiree, which certainly made me feel good at the end of a long day.

I sat next to Elisabeth Mainelli on one side and Noel-Ann Bradshaw from the University of Greenwich on the other side, which made very pleasant company; indeed at Gresham Society functions, pleasant company is more or less guaranteed.

The speaker was Michael Binyon, whose tales of derring-do as foreign correspondent for the times didn’t quite match Boot of The Beast (Scoop is one of my favourite novels) but raised several laughs none-the-less. A memorable tale about Messrs Foot and Healey meeting Brezhnev sticks in my mind, as does the problem of dictation down the phone line which led to the reporting of “dead sea squirrels”. What a by-gone era story that makes, although it occurred within living memory).

No doubt Michael Binyon had to dodge a bullet or two as a correspondent, but he struggled to dodge a “question-bullet” about the Times pay-wall, claiming that the iPad version of the Times is making money now.  As the economists, accountants and operational researchers on our table might put it; that depends on how you count.

I imagine that the merriment continued in the bar long after I sloped away, but at the end of a long day I decided to quit while I was still feeling very much on top.  A most enjoyable evening.





After Z/Yen Board Meeting Lunchtime Concert, City of London Sinfonia, St Andrew Holborn, 25 March 2015

We probably should have a corporate rule that every board meeting should conclude with a lunchtime concert.

But in reality this sort of thing is a rare treat for us…but treat this was indeed.

Michael had spotted this one, no doubt through some aldermanic connection, so not only did we get to listen to the delicious music but we got to eat some of the delicious food for honoured guests afterwards and network a while.

I like Handel’s concerto grossi and we got two of them in this concert. The sandwich filling was some Arvo Pärt of the listenable variety.

It was all very pleasant indeed.

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.


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.


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.

Middlesex v Surrey At Lord’s Twenty20 Match, King Cricket Report, 7 July 2011

At some point in the future I might…just might…be able to provide a multi-faceted piece on this particular evening at Lord’s.

At the time of writing (January 2018), only my King Cricket piece, published October 2011, survives to tell the tale.

Yet tell the tale it does, I think – certainly from my perspective. Internationalism, scandal and some improbable, impromptu games…not bad.

Middlesex v Surrey Twenty20 match report

Just in case anything ever happens to the King Cricket site, I have also scraped that report to here.

For those who have the stomach to look (i.e. most often neutrals and Surrey fans for these occasions), actually it looks as thought his was a pretty good match, despite the fact that I must have missed quite a fair chunk of it – click here for the scorecard and reports.

One extra bit of evidence on who, from “Ged Ladd & Co”, attended that time, in addition to “The Tiberellis”, comes from Jez’s e-mail to me a few week’s before the match:








Simon Strez would also like to come as it’s his last chance to see a cricket game in England before returning home to New Zealand. I also have 3 friends that will be coming to the game.

Dinner At Le Café du Marché With Michael Mainelli & Jeremy Smith, 6 May 2010

We arranged a dinner at Le Café du Marché to celebrate the third anniversary of the sale of Jeremy’s bit of the Z/Yen business to Aon.

We had some e-mail bants about the arrangements; Jeremy to me:

Cafe du Marche booked for 3 at 7:00pm on Thursday 6th May in name of Jeremy Smith…

…me to Jeremy in reply to the calendar invitation inferring that the dinner would start at 19:00 and end at 19:30…

…I’ve accepted your calendar invite only tentatively, as it seems like a lot of effort for a 30 minute chomp!!…

…Jeremy in response…

…OK OK – I’ve changed it  (well the location to a kebab shop – rather than the length)

Fortunately that last bit wasn’t true – Le Café du Marché was and I think still is a very fine restaurant in Smithfeld.

We had a very good meal and it was nice to catch up with Jeremy. At the time of writing (November 2017) we still catch up periodically, although not usually in quite such high-falutin’ locations.

Drinking and Eating, With The Mainelli Family, Hawksmoor Spitalfields, 13 March and with Mum, Perfect Blend Streatham 14 March 2010

No idea where Michael and I had a drink on 10 March, but my diary simply says:

MRM fm 17:00

I’m guessing we wanted to get all the business chat out of the way ahead of the social gathering a few days later – probably on pain of nagging from both Elisabeth and Janie.

MRM to me later that evening (10 March):

Good to chat tonight over a bottle of wine.  Should do it more often.

Asked about our China travel guides, apparently given away…

…Behind the scenes for Saturday – Elisabeth has NOT booked a sitter and thinks Xenia and Maxine are coming.  You might want to chat with Janie.  (1) If that’s fine, then we might as well meet at Hawksmoor.  (2) If that’s not fine, i.e. the girls are in total female communication mode, then I’m happy to put the paternal foot down for a sitter.

Me to Michael fewer than 15 minutes later. I sound a bit stressy. Perhaps just tired and emotional:


Re Saturday, I strongly suggest you get Elisabeth to speak with Janie on this.  The whole point of meeting at yours, as far as Janie is concerned, is that otherwise we won’t see the children.  If I raise this matter, Janie might well go off on one!!  We should either meet at the restaurant at 19:30 six strong or at your house 18:00 with sitter on the way.  Leave it to the girls to decide.  I’m easy either way.

Another boat worth not rocking is the itinerary for the holiday.  There won’t be any holiday unless we simply close on this very soon (5th or is it  6th iteration); and believe me on this occasion I am totally cool about it, other than imploring not to pack the itinerary with so much that we don’t get any rest!!  Stone Forest was inked in on first iteration and won’t budge, I’m sure.

The itinerary in question was the forthcoming trip to Yunnan and Sanya, which all came good in the end.

Janie and I recall that the Saturday event ended up being deferred to 19:30 at Hawksmoor Spitalfields with the Mainelli family complete.

Hawksmoor Spitalfields was (quite probably still is) a cracking good restaurant – absolutely top notch. Janie reckoned it even topped Smith and Wollensky in New York for quality – praise indeed. The Mainelli girls were (quite possibly still are) very well behaved to the point of being good company on a grown up meal out – at that time they were 12 and 10 ish.

The Hawksmoor thing was great for family eating, as you can choose your size of steak/chunk of beef and then share.

Anyway, Saturday 13 March was an excellent evening out.

Probably the last thing Janie and I needed was a big lunch the next day but…

…14 March 2010 was mothering Sunday.

Mum was really into Perfect Blend at that time – a local eatery run by a really nice and friendly family – the son ran the restaurant/cafe, which was across the road from his father’s greengrocer shop, which had been there since the very dawn of time.

Perfect Blend is sill there at the time of writing (October 2017) – well done – but here is a scrape for just in case the above eponymous link doesn’t work.

We liked the place because the staff were all very nice with mum and she felt she was supporting nice local people whom she had sort-of known for a very long time. I vaguely recall the service being a bit below the normal superb standards that day, as most places are on mothering Sunday, as the plethora of demanding mothers needing above average levels of attention spread the service capability a bit thin in even the best places.

Between all these eating and drinking activities, I would have been following the test match from Chittagong – click here.  I’ll guess that we timed lunch and our arrival at the house to ensure that the cricket was over and mum therefore will have noticed no distraction on my part. Mum might have noticed a slightly hungover version of me, though, from the Hawksmoor evening – great wines.

Oh well.

I Do Declare, MTWD Piece, Middlesex v Glamorgan Day 3, Lord’s, 24 April 2009

I took Michael Mainelli to Lord’s on Day Three of this  match, having taken Charley on Day One.

Hippity wrote up Day Three, having apparently jumped into my picnic bag in a fit of pique:

I Do Declare: Middlesex v Glamorgan Day 3 – click here.

Just in case anything ever happens to MTWD, I have scraped the piece to Ogblog – only click the link below if the link above doesn’t work:

Middlesex till we die – I Do Declare: Middlesex v Glamorgan Day 3

Commercial Ethics: Process or Outcome?, Gresham Lecture, Barnard’s Inn Hall, 6 November 2008

This was my first Gresham Lecture and by gosh the preparation felt like hard but very interesting work.

A lot of the material from this one ended up in The Price Of Fish.

Here is a link to the lecture – you can watch it, listen to the audio, read the text, download the text, look at the slides, download the slides…

Here’s the Vimeo of it so you can watch from here instead (but for the resources as well, you need to click the above link):

More observant followers of this lecture (e.g. John White) noticed that I strung some lines from songs and stuff through the slides. I made up an iTunes playlist for the lecture – back then, iTunes playlists felt like fun things to try.  Here it is: 

We held a traditional Z/Yen-Gresham reception in the Headmaster’s Study after the lecture. Doubtless someone pointed out my resemblance to the Chandos Portrait of Shakespeare in that room – someone always did. As I explained on Facebook to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death:

After the reception, Michael Mainelli escorted an honoured few of us to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese for one of his traditional post lecture meals. Not sure exactly who attended but I do recall Michael, Elisabeth, Kim, Micky, Charlie, Me, Janie and a few others.


Here is the unfinished “masterpiece”, which started to tell the tale of the Ian Harris Invitation XI v Charles Bartlett Invitation XI, Bentley CC – reported in a more Ogblog stylee here.

Sorry I didn’t have time to write a shorter one…

…or a complete one.


 Big Match Build Up

Hailing a brave new world, the annual Z/Yen v The Children’s Society cricket match had been laid to rest as a fixture.  Several of the original protagonists worked for neither organisation.  Further, numerous transfers and inter-marriages had occurred over the years.  It now seemed more fitting for the match to be renamed appropriately.  Ian Harris Invitation XI v Charles Bartlett Invitation XI sounded good.  Charles agreed to design a new trophy.  Even Dot Bartlett thought that “The Harris/Bartlett Trophy” sounded very grand, but Charles’ ego couldn’t sanction the title that way round, so the new trophy was named The Bartlett/Harris Trophy.


As the day of the big match approached, both captains were busy making their plans of campaign, more or less as usual.  Some things never change.


In order to cultivate a rich seam of talent, Ian had engaged the services of Heinrich The Gangmaster, who had in any case long-since moved on from The Children’s Society and was doing a great deal of work for Z/Yen.  Ian therefore claimed rights over Heinrich and his entire South African entourage.  Since Albus, top talent that he is, had married Fran from Z/Yen and led the way to a classic victory in 2007, it seemed only fitting that Heinrich’s entire gang switched allegiance.


There were fierce salvos of e-mail and a few frosty telephone and face-to-face exchanges, mostly revolving around  size and shape of players.  “No giants” was the gist of it, but definitions and playing conditions as usual got blurred in the debate.


Heinrich The Gangmaster was trying to be helpful when Ian spoke with him on the telephone.  “We can easily put together a winning team”, said Heinrich, “Rubeus is available, for example”.  “But Rubeus is a giant”, said Ian, “and I have promised Charles that we’d not field any giants”.  “Rubeus is only half-giant”, said Heinrich, unhelpfully, “but what about Lucius and Draco?”  “They’re evil”, said Ian, “I can only field players who we can be sure won’t try to take the opposition’s heads off”.  “What’s happened to your sense of fun?”, asked Heinrich.  “I lost it when you arranged for all of those giants and unhinged people to play against my team a couple of years ago,” Ian replied.  “I think I get the message”, said Heinrich.


Meanwhile Charles was taking no chances.  To counter the perceived threat, Charles Bartlett had cunningly ensured that he had access to the services of as many Bentley CC players as he might need, plus the festering talent pool of Tufty Stackpole, as well as the Children’s Society people, their friends and relations.


Of course, you wouldn’t guess any of that from the discussions between Charles and Ian.  “Not sure I can even get eleven people,” said Charles on one occasion, “been let down left right and centre.  Even that Bentley lad, Andy, is doubtful now.”  “We can always see if Heinrich the Gangmaster can find us some more South African hired hands,” said Ian.  “Funny you should mention that”, said Charles, “as I believe The Children’s Society has a couple of Heinrich’s mob back on their books again”.  “But no giants”, said both Charles and Ian in unison.


Meanwhile Dot Bartlett took on the unenviable task of arranging the most important element of the fixture: the catering for the day.  She was none too pleased when the original choice of caterers helpfully informed her that the firm had been taken over and that the new owners “wouldn’t get out of bed” for a poxy little catering contract like ours.  But Dot scrambled around and found a suitable alternative, little knowing that Heinrich The Gangmaster had his own ideas.


The Day of the Match – Ian Harris Invitation XI Innings

Come the toss, Ian was a little concerned that two members of his team were still missing: Michael and Elisabeth Mainelli.  Even more concerned was Ian when he lost the toss and was promptly inserted by Charles, as Ian was planning on opening the batting together with Michael.  It was a cunning plan.  Ian was to do his regular sandpaper bit, while Michael was to “pinch hit” using the baseball stance and technique which worked rather well against Barnardo’s 10 years ago.


But the Mainelli family arrived just in the nick of time.  The Mainelli’s came as a gang of four, including daughter Xenia (only the cruel and misguided suggest that Xenia was named after the business) and their priest, Father Bill (taking no chances this time, we nearly needed the last rites read more than once last time those big Saffers played).


“There’s a zoo, there’s a zoo”, shouted Xenia excitedly as they arrived.  “I can see zebra, wildebeeste, crocodiles, ostriches and snakes”.


“That’s not a zoo”, explained Michael, “it looks as though the Saffers have brought some food with them.  This looks distinctly like a ‘bring and braii’ to me.  If I’d known, I’d have brought some charismatic mega fauna with me as an offering.”


Meanwhile, Elisabeth was protesting that she had no suitable clothing or even footwear, as Michael had forgotten to tell her that she was playing today.  A very brief panic ensued, until Heinrich reminded Ian that we could, if utterly desperate, engage the services of Antonius Bloch, his former flatmate.  While Charles was remonstrating that Ian’s team was sleezing in a last-minute Saffer giant, Henirich assured everyone that Antonius’s only known sporting prowess was at chess.  Indeed, we could se Antonius playing with a rather shadowy-looking figure as we spoke.  Ominously, Father Bill was mumbling incantations at rapid speed while keeping a very safe distance from the chess-players.


While Elisabeth was remonstrating with Michael that she would have gladly played had she only been told that she was in the team, Ian was simultaneously rushing Michael into his pads and various protective clothing, all the while speaking in tongues about “pinch hitting”, “run rates”, “leg side”, “cow corner” and such like.


The problem was, of course, that in the intervening years Michael had seen a fair smattering of cricket and even been to see some 1st class matches, so he had seen how batting was supposed to be done.  So Michael ignored all this strange instructions and simply knuckled down to emulate the technique he had observed.


Several years seemed to pass as Michael and Ian’s opening partnership got underway.  The entire crowd fell into a deep and profound slumber, except for Heinrich the Braaier and his Assistant Braaier, Severus.


Suddenly there was a terrifying roar, the sound of a wild beast in agony.




“Jou dom stuk kak, Severus”, yelled Heinrich, “I’ve told you before, man, don’t put live wildebeeste onto the braai”.


“I didn’t, man, that yell was Ian saying ‘no’ to a run”, said Severus, sheepishly.


“Sorry man.  Score still nought for nought then?”, asked Heinrich.


“Something like that”, said Severus.


No amount of pleading managed to persuade Michael to try a scoring shot, despite his pinch hitting role, but eventually he was put out of his misery and Matt joined Ian at the crease.  Matt didn’t find it much easier than Ian and Michael to get the ball off the square of the pudding-like wicket.  Eventually Matt decided to play a straight one, played across it, and Charles Bartlett had clean bowled Matt of all people!  Some say that Charles did himself some permanent damage celebrating that wicket, while others insist that the damage had been caused a long time ago through Charles’ strange habit of not wearing a box when batting.