Festive Dinner At The Chelsea Physic Garden With Kim & Micky, 13 December 2017

Janie has become very fond of the Chelsea Physic Garden, following our Gresham Society visit in the spring:

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

Janie’s subsequent joining (thanks Toni) and a couple of splendid dinners there, not least with John and Mandy for the birthdays:

Birthday Dinner With John and Mandy At Chelsea Physic Garden, 29 August 2017

So Janie was very excited when Marc tipped her off to the idea of a December festive dinner indoors.

Not quite the magical atmosphere of summer dining in the garden itself, of course, but an excellent opportunity to get together with Kim and Micky during the festive season.

It was a super meal; similar in cooking style to the summer fare but using seasonal winter ingredients.

Here’s the menu:

From coincidence corner, a fellow member of Bodyworkswest, a gentleman named Lance, was sitting at the next table to us. We all had a chat for a while.

Micky won a tiny pack of  cards in his cracker, so we played poker, black jack, beat your neighbour and snap for a while. Micky wanted to play canasta but we’d need to mug up for that game.

You get the idea – we had a very good time. Kim and Micky are really looking forward to trying the summer experience at the Chelsea Physic Garden next season…as are we.

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!

Now That’s What I Call A Good Friday, Lunch With Kim & Micky In Noddyland, 14 April 2017

The night before, Janie and I had a super dinner with Toni Friend at Il Baretto.

Prior to dinner, Janie had picked up huge quantities of Lebanese food from Karam (formerly Crackers) and stored it in the Clanricarde Gardens flat fridge, while I played a losing game of real tennis at Lord’s en route to Il Baretto.

After dinner on Thursday, we stayed at the flat, then took ourselves and all that grub to the house early Friday…

…”are there four of us or forty of us for lunch?” I asked, as we lugged bag upon bag into and then out of Dumbo…

…before we headed off for an early game of modern tennis at Boston Manor Park.

Kim and Micky came over around 14:00.

Along with the wonderful Lebanese nibbles, Janie also served up some superb organic smoked salmon from Helga’s local Ummera smokehouse – thank you Helga.

It was too cold to sit outside, but we could admire the wonderful Noddyland bird life from the warm comfort of indoors.  Micky had never seen one of our woodpeckers before:

Wine flowed throughout the afternoon. I was being fairly abstemious, as it happens, as was (to a lesser extent) Janie.

Just around the point that everyone was feeling replete, Daisy then served up kebabs (for three of us) and falafels for Kim.

Then fruits and chocolates, just in case anyone still had some room.

Soon after we’d eaten, Kim, full of advice, as always, asked me if I knew what the phrase “fair weather friend” meant.

I explained that I had written a lyric about the Fair Weather Friend many years ago – click here for a link to the lyric – and indeed had been working up a performance of it on the baritone ukulele lately.

Janie chimed in that she really likes my Fair Weather Friend song. So I played and sang the song.

“We can do better than that,” announced Kim, dragging Janie off to the surgery room for about five minutes, after which they returned with their own lyric ready to “sing” and instructed Micky to video the result.

Here is their result…or I should say, here WAS their result…

Censored text block, by antonella.beccaria (flickr) http://www.flickr.com/photos/_shalom/548635280/
The original uploader was ChildofMidnight at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Frankly, it is not bad for five minutes’ work by a somewhat tired and emotional duet. But one of the performance artistes has subsequently requested that the video be removed from the public domain. Very close friends might ask for sight of the material…at their own peril.

By way of comparison, I laid down a one-take, unplugged cut of my Fair Weather Friend song – click the play icon on the MP3 below…

…and originally asked the court of public opinion to decide between the two songs in a mini Ogblog/on-line Eurovision-style contest.

Whether the self-censoring contestant decided to withdraw their entry for reasons of modesty/manners, or simply decided to award themselves “nul points” in the contest will remain an unanswered question until the end of all time.

Still, it was a fun afternoon – what better way to start the holiday long weekend than with friends?

The next day, Kim and Micky outdid us in the bird life department by somehow attracting a grey heron into their garden…

Thanks to Kim for this stunning photo of “her” grey heron

…but now it seems that Kim and Micky no longer have any fish in their pond. I suppose you can’t have everything.

A Lunch At Gravetye Manor With DJ, Kim and Micky, Then Overnight 28 and 29 June 2015

Actually taken in 2014, but the blustery moment looks more like 2015 – thanks to Kim for the picture

After the great success of our lunch at Gravetye Manor last year, DJ asked us again for 2015.

We arranged to stay over on the Sunday night, driving down on the Sunday morning. I’m not sure whether we played tennis – I have a feeling we did play, early.

Once again it was a lovely lunch. The food is very good there. Such a relaxing place.

Somehow it didn’t quite have the magical atmosphere of the previous year, perhaps because we were doing the same thing for a second time, perhaps it was just the vibe of the place this time around.

One highlight of the afternoon was a package of photograph prints and a memory stick from Kim as a gift to Janie. The above picture is one of the hundreds of pictures from that stick; many of which will surely find their way onto the retrospective sections of Ogblog.

The weather wasn’t quite so special, the sun and the showers came and went with regularity. So rather than hanging around digesting our food in that large outhouse/arbour thing and the smaller, more outdoorsy chairs and arbours from the previous year, we relocated inside to a snug spot within the Manor itself for most of the afternoon, although the showers became less regular and passed through as the afternoon went on.

Before too long, DJ, Kima nd Micky all decided to go, so Janie and I sorted ourselves out in our room and then went outside to enjoy the now rather glorious early evening, playing some croquet and badminton on the lawn.

I also decided on a photo-opportunity for a King Cricket piece I was minded to write about our visit to the test match a month or so earlier.


Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, the King Cricket crowd were much to clever for me and rumbled the set up photograph – as you can see from the comments on this link – I cannot imagine how or why they did that.

We drove back on the Monday in our tennis (lawners, not realers) gear, stopping off at Boston Manor for a hit. We also enjoyed the rest of our Monday off. Indeed, we did little work and had lots of fun that week, as you will see if you read on in sequence, not least the first couple of days in July.

Party at Kim & Micky’s House, 26 April 2015

Janie and I know what Kim & Micky’s parties can be like, so we hadn’t arranged anything for the Saturday evening and had arranged to take the Monday off.

This was a relatively small gathering by their standards, Sunday during the day, in honour of Kim’s birthday.

The usual suspects were there, plus some of the less usual suspects and of course Kim’s menagerie.

Imagine a smaller version of Never The Bride (shown above at Milton Keynes) performing in a conservatory

It was the first time I had seen Never The Bride, who Kim arranged to perform in the conservatory. In truth Kim’s conservatory is a bit small for the Never The Bride sound, even when the group turns up with just a core of performers and keeps the amplifier’s volume dial well below eleven.

Still, Never The Bride were very good and got everyone at the party singing along by hand picking the sorts of songs that most people of a certain age know well enough to sing along to.

Janie might remember more about the party than I do. We left relatively early in the evening, having been there since lunchtime, but I think a few people stuck around until very late by all accounts.

Not only did we take the next day off (pretty sure we played tennis and used the time pretty well) but we also had nothing arranged for the following weekend either.

I think that was more to do with having left dates clear for our impending Ireland trip than a need for a week or more’s clearance after Kim’s party. Perhaps a bit of both.

Whatever the reason, the next non-work thing in my diary is our visit to Lord’s on the Bank Holiday Monday, just before we set off for Ireland.

Dinner With Micky, Bleeding Heart, 15 April 2015

After an early exit from the office, Micky helps me out by looking at mum’s old engagement ring, I then help him out (not that he needs help) by sponsoring dinner at The Bleeding Heart.

An old haunt of the Binder Hamlyn crowd, perhaps I have known the place for as long as Micky has known it…no probably not quite as long. Since 1988 in my case.

Still, I hadn’t been for years and what a treat to get glorious spring weather so we could take our dinner in the yard.

Micky found a particularly good rose wine with which he persevered all evening; I joined him after trying a couple of the excellent Kiwi whites (a speciality of the otherwise resolutely French establishment).

Micky knows the Bleeding Heart crowd well and has more stamina than me, so in the end he suggested that I leave him to it. Having done plenty of eating and drinking, moreover with fatigue creeping up on me, I was delighted to comply.

Kim Micky & DJ For Dinner, Noddyland, 25 January 2014

My diary is not very forthcoming about this evening.

I have a vague feeling that Janie sourced a high quality capon for this meal.

This is not to be confused with the tough old boiler chickens referred to as capons that I discuss in the middle of this history piece from 1967 – click here.

In any case, you can be sure that Janie cooked a very good meal and that we all had a very enjoyable evening.

The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable, Temple Studios, 11 January 2014

This was an extraordinary installation/show. Not quite in the same class as The Masque Of The Red Death, another punchdrunk masterpiece, but not far off.

We went with Kim and Micky, eating a spread of Big Al goodies at the flat before ambling over to the venue. The “Temple Studios” installation was in the old Paddington sorting office; the place from whence I used to collect my parcels and “must be signed for” mail, back in the day.

This piece is about the making of a Hollywood movie and the studio that is making it. But are the scenes we see playing out scenes from the movie or real violent drama playing out in the studio?

Kim tried to amuse herself by putting the performers off, but they were all too seasoned for that. I enjoyed getting lost around the studio and examining the incredibly detailed artefacts punchdrunk had strewn around the place, before wending my way through the various performance scenes.

It was great fun.

The bar and entertainment therein was good too. At that juncture, Kim’s style of intervention was positively sought after and Kim did not disappoint.

Here is a link to punchdrunk’s explanatory on-line resource and you might enjoy the “film trailer” below.

This link will take you to plenty of reviews; mostly excellent but some reviewers didn’t get it.

A Few Evenings during September 2008, not least 30 September 2008

That time of year, I suppose. A few evenings worth listing.

11 September 2008: Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinner – explained in the third entry of the link piece. Here is John random’s tombstone e-mail from that night:

Just like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all those who came to the 32nd Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinner – actually I don’t know if it is the 32nd but we’ve been doing an average of four a year since the year 2000, so it sounds plausible. Those of you who weren’t there, whether in Africa, America, Ireland or some oil-producing nation such as Harpenden you were all sadly missed, You missed a great quiz from Gerry, and the surprise (and welcome) re-appearance of John Cowen. Special guest Neil Watson brought a touch of class to the proceedings.

16 September 2008: Gresham College – one of Michael Mainelli’s very last lectures that “fed” The Price of Fish. This was at Barnard’s Inn Hall. Z/Yen will have sponsored drinks and some of us will have had some grub (almost certainly at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese) afterwards.

23 September 2008: Bill Emmott’s Sir Thomas Gresham Docklands Lecture which was excellent. Followed by a drinks and then a round table discussion/meal at the Four Seasons Docklands.

26 September 2008: Kim, Micky and Charlie dinner, 7:00ish. Sounds like it must have been at Sandall Close; a trawl through Janie’s diary archive will confirm or deny at some stage.

30 September 2008: Stuart Rose lecture at the Royal Opera House. Can’t find an on-line reference but I do recall being there. Something about probity and stuff.


Kim and Micky’s Party, 8 August 1992

All the diary entry says is “Kim & Michel 1:30”. A daytime, summer party. But that summer party was no ordinary passing event for me…nor for Janie.

On that day, at that party, Janie and I first met.

Writing this piece 25 years (to the day) after the event, my recollection of the day is a bit patchy.

I hadn’t seen Kim and Micky for some time; since my back injury, two year’s before, I had been a bit less sociable and had not been so good at keeping in touch with people. I remember being pleasantly surprised when Kim called, out of the blue, to invite me to that party.

There were quite a lot of people at the party – a few dozen I would guess. I chatted at some length with a pair of lively, friendly “girls”; Anthea – a photographer friend who had been at school with Kim, as had the other young woman, Jane, who was Kim’s chiropodist friend.

I vaguely recalled Kim having spoken with me in the past about these good friends; in particular Jane. I also recalled Rene Knight (who worked for Kim’s family for many years) telling me a funny story about Jane.

When Kim first started dating Micky, Rene mentioned to Jane that Micky was from Belgium and also that Kim’s new hot-shot boyfriend drove a Mercedes. Jane had asked whether the Mercedes was petrol or diesel. Rene wondered why Jane wanted to know. Jane told Rene that a Belgian diesel Mercedes must be a cab and that, if the Mercedes was diesel, Micky was clearly not the hot-shot he held himself out to be. Rene passed on this pearl of wisdom to Kim, who confirmed that the car was indeed propelled through the use of diesel fuel. By all accounts, Kim challenged Micky with this “fact” about his occupation the next time she saw him, but, despite Janie’s error of judgment on that matter, Kim & Micky progressed with their relationship and the two of them persevered with Janie’s friendship.

In some ways it is odd that Janie’s and my path hadn’t crossed before, through Kim & Micky, but in the late 1980s, when I would see Kim & Micky socially a few times a year, it tended to be dinner or lunch parties and I guess they saw Janie and me as part of different circles. In any case, we were both otherwise attached most of the time during those years.

Anyway, Janie and I ended up as part of a smaller group that was still around into the early evening, at which point Kim suggested that we all go across the square and play tennis.

I had just started playing tennis again post injury, although quite tentatively still. Goodness only knows how useless I was after quite a few drinks at the party. But most of us had been drinking quite heavily, so I don’t suppose the quality of the tennis was very high.

I’m struggling to remember who was still around for that impromptu tennis. Janie, Kim and Micky of course; I think also Gary & Clifford. Perhaps Anthea also, but I have a feeling that she ducked out before the tennis. Others might remember.

I do recall thinking that Janie was pretty good at tennis. It probably helped that she was the only sober person among us. It also helped that she had grown up in a house with a tennis court and sisters to play with, but I didn’t know that fact at the time.

Janie had mentioned several times that she had driven to the party in her car and therefore wasn’t drinking.  After the tennis, I asked her if she could drop me at a tube station. She said that she would, but that she wasn’t prepared to go out of her way and that the only tube station she’d be passing was Hanger Lane. That was ideal for me, as Hanger Lane and Notting Hill Gate are on the same line.

Janie and I chatted some more on the fifteen minute car journey.

She said that she liked poetry.

When she stopped the car to drop me off, I asked Janie for her telephone number.

Janie said no.

In order to get out of the car with my dignity intact, I took from my wallet one of those sticky labels with my name, address and telephone number on it. I stuck the label on her steering wheel, saying, “in that case, you can have my address and telephone number”.

Janie thanked me and said that she would write me a poem.

I’m still waiting for the poem.