Z/Yen Seasonal Lunch And Outing, Watermen’s Hall & The Cinema Museum, 15 December 2017

Z/Yen returned to the scene of last year’s “crime” to take our seasonal team repast at Watermen’s Hall again.

Last year the Ogblog report of the event was combined with a couple of other events of mine. If you want to compare, you can read all about the 2016 happenings by clicking here or through the link below:

Three Seasonal Events In Four Days, 13 to 16 December 2016

There was a very enjoyable pre-lunch Champagne reception, as last year, with everyone who is dining at Watermen’s having a chance to mingle. This year, coincidentally, one of the guests (at one of the other tables) is Kit, who lives in Janie’s former street and is an old friend of ours – small world, eh?

But soon we move on to the five course meal. The menu will be revealed along with this year’s song lyric further down this piece.

The main course, the goose, shown below, was the third course.

Our goose was cooked this year

I sat opposite Shivangee, who politely told me that i have been pronouncing her name wrong all the while. She looks surprisingly perky in the following picture given those circumstances:

Shivangee looks happy while pepping up the veggie option

We swapped rural India stories and I promised her I’d link her through to the most bizarre thing that ever happened to me in that part – here and below is that link:

The Day I Was Press-ganged Into Becoming a Live Cricket Commentator

But if Shivangee thought that I could talk plenty over lunch, she was soon to meet a real pro in the commissionaire at the Cinema Museum – more on him later.

In fact there is a very jolly, convivial, chatty atmosphere at Watermen’s. The alcohol flows lavishly through the courses, with a very interesting white port aperitif, white wine, red wine and the more familiar ruby port at the end of the meal.

Lunch.

To the left of me – Linda seems to be holding court…
…to the right of me, is Elisabeth in full flow, or is she literally chewing the fat?

With all of those courses, a room full of dinners and an appointment at the Cinema Museum to get to, we broke with tradition and decided to sing the Z/Yen Christmas song at the Cinema Museum instead.

But before that, secret Santa was a must at table. I was given some pencils with negatively-motivational messages on them. Is someone (Santa) trying to tell me something?

The Z/Yen staff also each got a Raucherman – one of those artefacts that you didn’t know existed until you were given one, then you realise that your life has previously had less meaning and that now, with your Raucherman, you are that much closer to being fulfilled.

We arrived at the Cinema Museum some while after the originally appointed hour, but still were asked to wait a while so that the head honcho, Martin, might address us (and take our money) before handing us over to commissionaire Maurice, who told us all about it and more besides.

So while waiting, we sang the Z/yen Christmas song.  A delightful Egyptian lady, Meena, was joining our tour and joined us in song as best she could:

WATERMEN AND LIGHTERMEN AND Z/YEN – 2017 Version

(A seasonal song to the tune of “Winter Wonderland”)

VERSES ONE AND TWO

Parsnip soup, fit for galleons,

Salmon soused, in medallions;

We’ll eat Christmas lunch, Z/Yen Group as a bunch;

Watch us put on weight at Watermen’s.

At the start, we’ll be perky,

By the end, stuffed like turkey;

Five courses of nosh, all terribly posh;

Watch us put on weight at Watermen’s.

 

MIDDLE EIGHT

After eating goose with Christmas trimmings,

We’ll tuck in to Perouche cheese with pear;

After Christmas pud, you must be kidding,

With rum sauce that could be a warning flare.

 

VERSE THREE

Then in Lambeth you’ll see ‘em,

Tour the cinema museum;

The Z/Yen team en masse, with guts full of gas;

Walking off their lunch from Watermen’s.

(RISING/ROUSING FINALE): Let’s hope walking makes us Lightermen!

 

Z/Yen Group 2017 Christmas Lunch at Watermen’s Hall

(The Company of Watermen and Lightermen)

Menu

  • Parsnip & Chestnut Soup
  • Medallion of Scottish Salmon, Champagne Sauce
  • Roast Breast of Goose & Confit of Leg, Tarragon & Ginger Crust, Red Currant Jus, Chateau Potatoes, Sugar Snap Braised Red Cabbage Broccoli & Baby Carrots
  • The Cook & The Butler World Famous Traditional Christmas Pudding, Christmas Pudding Ice Cream, Oranges in Caramelised Oranges, Rum Sauce
  • Yule Log of Perouche Cheese with Pear

No it is not the same song as last year – totally different.

Totally. It’s a different menu for a start.

Once we were in the extremely talkative and capable hands of commissionaire Maurice, we were soon singing again – this time the ABC Minors Club Song.

Commissionaire Maurice gets us singing and thinking about old cinemas

The big thing about that site for the Cinema Museum is that it is the site of a workhouse in which Charlie Chaplin lived briefly as a kid. Sadly the site is being sold and the museum is at risk, unless its joint bid with the Peabody Estate sees off the hard-nosed commercial interest in the site.

There is an on-line petition – click here to find it.

Talking for Britain – don’t mention Brief Encounter to Maurice

It was a quirky tour but very interesting. I remember some of those old cinemas, not least the ABC in Streatham Hill, the Odeon a bit nearer Streatham proper  and the Granada across the road from dad’s shop on St John’s Hill. Linda remembered similar from her youth. Maxine and her friend, who came along just for the tour, must have wondered what on earth Maurice was talking about half the time.

A few of us retired to the Old Red Lion in Kennington for a drink and a chat after the tour. James Pitcher proved very good at asking and Alexandra proved very good at answering pub quiz type questions such as “which two tube stations have all the vowels in their names” and “which tube station has six consonants in a row in its name?”. We spent quite some time trying to solve the mystery of the beautiful film starlet whose picture we couldn’t identify. James “phoned a friend” who rather brilliantly responded Pier Angeli rapidly and correctly. Respect.

We drew the line at playing the truth game and at that juncture decided to draw stumps on a hugely enjoyable Z/Yen Christmas event.

Z/Yen Team Outing To See Middlesex Hammered By Hampshire At Lord’s, 3 August 2017

Lord’s Resplendent Early Evening, Photograph by Alexandra Karathodorou

For several years, the traditional fixture for the annual Z/Yen visit to Lord’s has been a Middlesex v Surrey match, ever since the Z/Yen Awayday during which Garry Sobers watched the Z/Yen team play cricket – click here for that story; most years the T20 game.

But this year, several key people were unavailable for the Middlesex v Surrey T20 fixture whereas, unusually, most people were available on 3 August for the Middlesex v Hampshire game.

Our Z/Yen contingent contained representatives from across the globe, ranging from “home of cricket” places such as India and Middlesex, through moderately-cricketing places such as Nepal to places where cricket is a rarity, such as the USA, Greece, Germany and Surrey. (I couldn’t help myself).

On this occasion, pretty much everyone got behind Middlesex (why not) although Linda, with her Southampton F.C. connection, felt torn between the two sides.

But we had to forgive Linda, because she had brought the food. Loads of it. Following the success of Xueyi’s Chinese picnic choices last year, Linda had returned to Xueyi’s recommended place and mostly stocked up with delicious Chinese nibbles.

Linda Likes Her Food Choices, Photograph By Alexandra Karathodorou

There was a good crowd at the match and a very jolly atmosphere. Unlike last year’s good close match, Middlesex, a depleted side by this stage of the tournament this year, didn’t put up much of a fight – click here for scorecard.

Possibly the most interesting moment on the field of play was towards the end, when a fox invaded the pitch. How it got through Lord’s security without a ticket and (worse) entered a hallowed part of Lord’s inappropriately attired is anybody’s guess.

Z/Yen At Lord’s Under Lights, Photograph By Alexandra Karathodorou

But in many ways these outings are as much about being convivial team picnic outings as they are about the cricket. The weather smiled on us; a mixture of sun and clouds, but no rain. The Lord’s experience is always charming and special – and because we chose to come a bit later in the season than usual, Z/Yen people got to see Lord’s properly under lights when it got dark, which is differently special.

Three Seasonal Events In Four Days, 13 to 16 December 2016

Mark Keegan Admires His Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Trophy Moments After John Random Awards Mark With That Great Honour, 15 December 2016

Brian Eno Singsong and Party, Brian’s Studio, Tuesday 13 December 2016

The first of my “three dos in four days” was at Brian Eno’s place – I have been invited to such dos on several occasions now, often but not always at this time of year. I have known Brian from the health club (BodyWorksWest, formerly known as Lambton Place) for quarter of a century or more.

The party is combined with Brian’s a capella choir gathering, allowing neophytes and bathroom singers like me to have an occasional go.

I thought I arrived in quite good time on this occasion, but the singing was well underway when I arrived; the regulars presumably having made a punctual early start.

The songs chosen were quite relentlessly morbid at first. There is usually a fair bit of spiritual blues material, but this set seemed especially bleak, with unfortunate folk being hanged for crimes they didn’t commit and all sorts. It wasn’t too difficult to pick up on the tunes quickly enough – I suppose that’s why they choose this material for the more open sing-song, but it didn’t feel much like party music at first.

The last couple of numbers were a bit more lively – not least All I Have To Do Is Dream at the end, sung in a doo-wap style. It helped me that I was standing next to a couple of very able, presumably professional singers, upon whose rhythms and harmonies I could latch. A few people afterwards asked me if I was a professional singer, but I’m sure they must have been hearing the sound emanating from those guys, not me.

Brian said that he couldn’t hear me this time, which is a good sign; presumably therefore an improvement on last time. But perhaps he also was deceived by my co-location with the professional-sounding guys.

Anyway, as on previous occasions, I also found the rest of the party great fun, meeting and chatting with several very interesting people. I also danced a bit to some excellent party mix music, well designed for the purpose (mostly 1970’s dance, with some earlier and later stuff thrown in).

I didn’t stick around until too late – I had a scheduled client call quite early the next day – so (as on every previous occasion) I missed the blood, guts, ambulances and police cars stage of the party. Brian subsequently told me that the emergency services stage failed to occur this time, to his intense disappointment.

 

Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinner, Café Rouge Holborn, 15 December 2016

Since around the turn of the century, when fellow NewsRevue writer, Ivan Shakespeare, tragically keeled over and died while jogging, several of us have gathered a few times each year to keep in touch and reminisce about our NewsRevue days. Just before his death, Ivan e-mailed a few of us suggesting that we should regroup for that purpose, but never lived to see his idea to fruition.

Quite early in the life of this occasional gathering, it became part of our tradition to play a comedic quiz or two towards the end of the evening. I think it was John Random who initiated that idea, but several other people, occasionally contribute a quiz. Gerry Goddin latterly contributes a variant in which we all have to try to write jokes on suggested themes and Gerry allocates points (or deducts points) based on how well the jokes go down, his perception of each joke’s quality and/or Gerry’s authoritarian whim.

For the December gathering in 2002 (I’ll get around to Ogblogging it in the fullness of time no doubt) I went into a local tourist gimcrack store and bought the cheapest, tackiest piece of porcelain royal memorabilia I could find; then I emblazoned it with a legend declaring it to be the Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Trophy. Since 2002, that trophy has been played for earnestly each year. Nine different people have held the trophy over the years; I am proud to be able to state that I was the 2004 winner.

Anyway, it seems to be getting harder and harder to find a venue that operates flexibly enough for a rather haphazard bunch of former (and in some cases current) comedy writers to gather in mid December. Café Rouge Holborn has become the regular venue for the past few visits, but it seems they tried to impose a Christmas season “pre-ordering” regime on us, which was somewhat beyond the capabilities of John Random’s organising and our ability to be organised by anyone or anything.

So, half-a-dozen or so of us had pre-ordered and Café Rouge assumed that there would only be half-a-dozen of us (despite John booking the table for 10); which proved problematic once the eighth and especially ninth person showed up.

To be fair the staff tried their best in what seemed to be chaotic circumstances and did relocate us to a table for 10 quite quickly.

But poor Jonny Hurst ended up waiting for best part of an hour before any food was brought to him at all, at which point a starter and two main courses all turned up at once. I was half-hoping that Jonny would say, “do you know who I am? I’m Jonny Hurst, the chant laureate, that’s who”. Jonny might even have been forgiven for “doing a Jeremy Clarkson”…but Jonny is far too mild mannered and polite for any of that, even when he has a real hunger-on and everyone around him is tucking in.  Respect.

Eventually we played the quizzes. Colin Stutt offered a small quiz to warm us up, but the main quiz, for the trophy, was a very imaginative effort from John Random which comprised 10 maps, each of which had a location marked with a year. We had to name the movie that was made in that year set in that place.

I was pleased with my 7 out of 11 (one map had two years and therefore two movies and two points) but Mark Keegan pipped a couple of us 7-istas with 8 out of 11 to claim the trophy yet again – his fourth victory in 15 years. Respect.

Gerry Goddin ended the evening with one of his joke-fest games with some especially harsh marking  and the predictable result that Barry Grossman’s jokes pleased him more than anyone else’s – it is nearly always Barry who wins, very occasionally me.

A most enjoyable evening.

 

Z/Yen Group Christmas Lunch at Watermen’s Hall, 16 December 2016

For the first time in Z/Yen’s 23 Christmases, we decided to do Christmas lunch rather than dinner this year.

Linda and Michael conspired to find a five course extravaganza of a lunch at Watermen’s Hall, which seemed just the ticket in the circumstances. It’s a comparatively intimate and relaxed atmosphere for a guild’s hall; but now that Z/Yen is that much smaller, our group wouldn’t completely dominate the room.

Michael pipped me an e-mail the previous weekend to ask if I would write one of the traditional Z/Yen singalong songs – normally but not absolutely always my gig. 

(Previous Z/Yen Christmas events and songs will be Ogblogged in the fullness of time).

Anyway, the sight of the five course menu and the name of the Company that resides at Waterman’s Hall inspired a simple but effective song to the tune of Winter Wonderland – click here or below for a YouTube with Bing and lyrics.

But before exercising our lungs, we ate the following excellent five course meal, washed down with some fine wine and (for some, not me) port.

Z/Yen Group 2016 Christmas Lunch at Watermen’s Hall

(The Company of Watermen and Lightermen)

Menu

Torched mackerel, pickled and salt baked beetroot, horseradish crème fraiche

Smoked ham hock and chicken terrine, pickled apricots, watercress salad

Butter roasted Norfolk turkey, sage and apricot stuffing, bacon wrapped sausages, brussels sprout choucroute with chestnuts

Star anise poached pear, almond crumb, whipped clotted cream

Christmas pudding, brandy sauce

Michael kept me and Xueyi talking about GeoGnomo for a fair chunk of the meal, but otherwise we managed to steer clear of work chat.

Michael was also keen not to torture too many people with our song, but once there were only a few stragglers left (apart from we Z/Yen folk) we found a surprisingly receptive audience; indeed those Watermen and Lightermen joined in the singing with us, rounding off a fine afternoon.

♬ WATERMEN AND LIGHTERMEN AND Z/YEN ♬

( A seasonal song to the tune of ♬”Winter Wonderland” )

 

VERSES ONE AND TWO

Mackerel torched, beetroot pickled,

Ham terrine, we’ll be tickled;

We’ll eat Christmas lunch, Z/Yen Group as a bunch;

Watch us put on weight at Watermen’s.

At the start, we’ll be perky,

By the end, stuffed like turkey;

Five courses of nosh, all terribly posh;

Watch us put on weight at Watermen’s.

 

MIDDLE EIGHT

After eating turkey laced with trimmings,

We’ll tuck in to star anise poached pear;

Christmas pud as well, you must be kidding,

The brandy sauce could be a warning flare.

 

VERSE THREE

Head for home, very slothfully,

On the trail back to Lothbury;

Let’s hope that we scoff…ing walk our waists off;

Walking all the way from Watermen’s.

(RISING/ROUSING FINALE): Let’s hope walking makes us Lightermen!

A Works Outing To The Middlesex v Surrey T20 Match At Lord’s, 21 July 2016

A Pokémon Displaying A Worrying Level Of Indifference To Cricket (with thanks to Xueyi for capturing the little fella)
A Pokémon Displaying A Worrying Level Of Indifference To Cricket At Lord’s (with thanks to Xueyi for capturing the little fella)

For several years now, it has been a Z/Yen tradition for a dozen or so of us to visit the Middlesex v Surrey T20 match at Lord’s. For several years, the tradition was also to witness Surrey thrashing Middlesex and for the assembled throng to try consoling me and Jez with “maybe next year” platitudes.

But last year, for the first time in yonks, Middlesex won the match. Better yet, this year Middlesex were sitting a bit higher in the table than Surrey ahead of the fixture, with both sides desperate for the points to help achieve knockout-stage qualification. A big game.

However, I had some difficulty persuading Xueyi to attempt watching cricket again. Her previous visit (two years ago) had left her cold in several respects; not least the chilly weather but also finding the cricket hard to fathom and finding the “M&S picnic nibbles” not quite to her taste. I suggested that I might take a trip to Chinatown and stock up with Cantonese bakery delicacies as the centrepiece of the picnic if that might persuade Xueyi to join us. She said it would.

I was working from home that day, so I chose to make my Chinatown hike reasonably early to be sure of a good stock of the day’s bakery delights. I googled to see if my old stomping ground was still top notch for this purpose and discovered that, indeed, Kowloon in Gerard Street is still highly regarded, especially for its massive cha siu baos and gai mei baos. I was introduced to that place in the late 1970’s/early 1980s when doing holiday jobs for Newman Harris in Cavendish Square; the Chinese Malaysian trainees and I used to make a lunch of those big tasty buns. It must be a good 25 years since I last went there, though.

Picture by Anthony Baby from (optional) This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
Cha Siu Baos – Picture by Anthony Baby from (optional) – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

On the way, I recalled that the place used to be cash only and made sure I had drawn enough money just in case. Indeed, the place was utterly unchanged including the hand-scribbled order ticket and the cash only payment desk. I went a bit mad buying lots of baos, plus some cha siu pastry ones and some sweet melon pastries too.

I called Xueyi to let her know that I had bought loads of food and also to ask her to let Linda know that we wouldn’t need much else for the hoards, but Xueyi clearly had other ideas, not least a fiendish plan to get some smaller delicacies from her favourite dim sum joint; Orient London. Like me, Xueyi went a bit mad getting loads of cha siu pastries (smaller than the Kowloon ones, but, frankly, much finer) and also some very juicy and delicious prawn spring rolls, which were surprisingly good cold. Also some Cantonese brisket beef slices.

Cha Sou Pastries - by Terence Ong - licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Cha Siu Pastries – by Terence Ong – licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

In her fervour, Xueyi neglected to pass on my message to Linda, who went down to M&S and bought a fair selection of nibbles just in case my Chinese food idea didn’t go down well with everyone.

Anyway, to cut a long story short the Chinese delicacies went down very well with our team and there were plenty left to feed other spectators sitting near us and Linda had lots of M&S food to take home with her for the weekend.

Why were we there? Oh yes, a cricket match.

Barmy Kev came and sat near us but for some reason chose not to join us when invited. Perhaps he thought we might have designs on his bottle of wine (as if we didn’t have plenty of that too). But soon Kev realised that he had no corkscrew, so (not for the first time in my life and surely not for the last) begged the loan of a corkscrew from me and then demonstrated for about 5 minutes how very bad his screwing technique is for one so experienced as he – Kev’s MTWD write up, here, does not do his demonstrable incompetence justice. There was a big crowd cheer when he eventually withdrew the cork.

Meanwhile, Xueyi (from Nanjing, China) and Ashley (born in Jamaica but raised in the USA and therefore strangely aware of but not well versed in cricket) asked quite a lot of sensible questions about the game and then settled down to finding pokémons in the crowd, which they seemed to be able to do with little difficulty and much delight (see photo).

Marc (sitting next to me) tried to argue a social justice case for Surrey to win the match because Middlesex won last year; this was about as convincing to me as his “Brexit leave” arguments.

Linda was especially interested in the progress of our sponsored player, Ryan Higgins, as for once our sponsored player was actually playing in the fixture we attended. He took an early catch, bowled well restricting the scoring/taking a late wicket and eventually scored the winning runs in that tough run chase. Not bad. Here’s the scorecard. Even better, Ryan Higgins took five wickets the next day as Middlesex recorded back to back wins; a real breakthrough period for the promising 21 year-old. Our boy.

Regardless of whether they focus on the eating, drinking, pokémons and/or cricket, the Z/Yen team always seems to enjoy this outing. There was a record crowd for a domestic T20 cricket match in England that night 27,000+, so it seems that we’re far from the only bunch that finds these T20 evenings a fun and enticing proposition.

How I Said ‘F*** You’ To The Company When They Tried to Make Me Redundant by Rohan Candappa, Z/Yen Offices, 28 January 2016

Moncada Barracks or the old Z/Yen offices? One or the other.

Back in December, Rohan Candappa wrote to me asking if he could by any chance use the big Z/Yen meeting room on 28 January to try out his latest piece of performance writing early evening on the motley bunch of Alleyn’s alumni (I include myself in that epithet) who gather occasionally in the City for beer, curry and old times’ sake.

Strangely, Z/Yen’s big meeting room is not much used at 19:00 in the evening, so it would have seemed churlish to say no, especially when Rohan agreed to sponsor some beer and nibbles. Linda Cook, our Z/Yen practice manager, was hurriedly elected an honorary Alleyn’s alum for the evening, so the organisation of the event was practically resolved, even with John Eltham out of the country for much of January.

It felt incongruous (in a pleasant way) to have the Alleyn’s gang at the Z/Yen office for the evening. For one thing, I didn’t realise how well behaved we could be when gathered together in the right environment. There weren’t even any teachers to keep us in check.

But to Rohan’s extraordinary piece. The title basically divulges the plot. Rohan expresses in poignant terms the emotions he experienced when told that he was being made redundant. There is nothing funny about the way being made redundant makes someone feel, but the circumstances of this attempted redundancy are quite ludicrous. In the hands of Rohan Candappa, who is highly skilled at bitter-sweet humour as well as the more standard comedy variety, this sad story generated a remarkable amount of laughter. It is a very funny piece.

The humour builds once Rohan reaches the point in the story where, having had time to reflect on his seemingly hopeless situation, he decides to try and win against the odds. He initiates this twist brilliantly by telling the story of the Cuban rebels attacking the Moncada Barracks in 1953 – click here if you want to see the Wikipedia version of the story – although Rohan’s version is more pertinent to his story and far more fun.

Click here if you want to see the pictures Janie and I took of the Moncada Barracks in 2007.  Indeed feel free to hang around in Flickr looking at our Cuba pictures generally.  It’s one heck of a photogenic place.  As long as you promise to come back here afterwards and finish reading this blog piece.

Once the “fight back” part of Rohan’s story starts to unfold, the piece becomes even funnier and has terrific momentum to it. I almost felt sorry for [Insert name here] (the boss behind the attempted redundancy) and his human resources hench-woman…

…I said ALMOST felt sorry for them. Cut me some slack guys. Or say how you felt about it with your own words in the comments section. Don’t just yell at the screen.

There are precious few pieces of theatre about the workplace and even fewer good ones. With all due respect to Vaclav Havel, who wrote several absurdist pieces about work places, I have seen more than one but never got much out of those Havel plays. Indeed, the only really good play about the workplace that comes to my mind is David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross.  In an intriguing echo of Rohan’s title, btw, the film version of Glengarry Glen Ross (which is a very good movie) has the phrase “F*** You” articulated in an infeasible number of different ways for a two-syllable phrase. But I digress. My point is that the workplace is a big part of our lives but is wicked hard to turn into good drama. Rohan has succeeded in producing some very good drama indeed in this piece, which is a commendable achievement.

In short, the piece is a triumph and I really hope that Rohan progresses with it and gets it a wider audience. It is really thought-provoking as well as entertaining.

We sat in the meeting room chatting for ages after the performance; some of the group are people who have been made redundant, others of us people who have been in a position where we have dismissed staff ourselves. Everyone had experiences, thoughts and points to make. Eventually we realised that we were late for our meal and that our restaurant booking might go south unless we quickly headed south to the Rajasthan. So we migrated and continued our conversations there. A very special 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.

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.

Z/Yen Tennis Evening At Boston Manor, 1 July 2010

Z/Yen’s mighty gladiators prepare for battle

Z/Yen works outings and events tend to work out successfully – not much can go wrong if you organise a jolly with activities, libations and grub.

But just occasionally, such a jolly turns out to be very special indeed; exceptionally enjoyable at the time and exceptionally memorable long after the event.

Such was, in my opinion, the Z/Yen tennis event at Boston Manor Tennis Club (BMTC); especially the first time we did it, in July 2010.

Janie and I play tennis at BMTC every weekend, unless absence or extremely foul weather prevents. We knew it would be a friendly, informal venue for a bit of sport and a barbecue…

…and an opportunity for BMTC to make a little bit of money towards its floodlight project – which met its objectives within three years of Z/Yen’s visit.

Anyway, this idea seemed to catch the collective Z/Yen imagination, as we ended up a group of 30 or so for the event; 16 playing, 14 trying to put the players off and all 30 of us eating and drinking.

Maury Shenk “cannot be serious”, foreground, with Ben Morris at the base line

I wrote the event up at the time on Now And Z/Yen – click here for link.

Actually the unsung hero (or should I say heroine) of the evening was undoubtedly Monique Gore, who organised pretty much everything (apart from the tennis itself, which was organised by Jez “Games Teacher” Horne) and also took over 100 photographs. You can click here or click through the photograph below to see all of the pictures:

TenniZ 075

Monique is an excellent photographer. Observe, in the picture above, she has managed to produce the visual illusion that I know what I am doing playing doubles up at the net. Nothing could be further from the truth, but I do look the part in that picture – as does Chiara hitting the ball in the background – thanks Monique.

The above picture does remind me of one early memory of the evening, which found its way into the Now and Z/Yen report:

It was Chiara von Gunten’s first working day, so we hope she doesn’t get into the habit of knocking off work every day at 15:30 and spending the rest of the afternoon enjoying sport and revelry. Within about 15 seconds of starting practice with her randomly-picked doubles partner, Ian Harris, she had “caught him amidships” from behind. Not a good career move on your first day, Chiara.

Strangely, the above incident didn’t adversely affect Chiara’s career in the end…probably because she was so good at her job.

Leo demonstrates a textbook shot…unfortunately it is from the economics text book, not the tennis text book

You could be forgiven for assuming, if you only saw the above picture of Leo Fishman swatting a fly…I mean trying to hit a tennis ball…that Leo wasn’t too sure what she was doing…

…but I knew that Leo comes from good tennis stock – I spent many hours on the tennis courts at Keele in my student days while her grandfather, Professor Les Fishman, was playing with his entourage on one of the other courts.

So it wasn’t a complete surprise when Leo and Joey took the coveted trophy that year; presented by Jez.

But it wasn’t all fierce battle

To quote from the Now and Z/Yen write up:

With the barbeque sizzling and the refreshments flowing, the tennis competition soon became secondary, although plenty of people enjoyed some makeshift tennis after the tournament ended. The revelry went on long after dark, which takes some late-night stamina at this time of year.

The above memory is my most abiding one – a surprisingly large group of people lingering on, enjoying the glorious long summer evening and each other’s company until very late.

It wasn’t all about tennis

One memory absent from the Now and Z/Yen report was the appearance of Angela Broad with her friend Doreen, who was briefly in the country at that time. Doreen’s chauffeur parked the ginormous Mercedes “inconspicuously” on the far side of the car park. This worked in a way, because if you weren’t looking out for it, you probably wouldn’t have noticed it from the courts or associated that vehicle with our event. It must have caused a bit of a stir amongst the regular park users, though. Janie and I thought it was very funny at the time.

I’d love to know if other people remember this particular event as fondly as I do…

…and do people have some other/alternative memories of that evening they would care to share?

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

 

Inaugural Long Finance Conference, Singing, Talking, Dinner And BASIC Event, 1 February 2010

I don’t Ogblog much work related stuff – Ogblog is supposed to be about life beyond work. But of course work and life overlap at times – into “work life”.

This was such a day.

Following much thought and planning, Michael Mainelli had arranged an inaugural Long Finance conference – click here for the resource on the event.

We wanted the event to have a slightly different feel, so Michael suggested that I pen a couple of silly songs to use as interludes, getting the audience to exercise their lungs occasionally rather than just get geeky and morbid about the long-term future of finance, post the debacle of 2008.

Partly through Michael connecting up with The Long Now Foundation and partly through my personal connection with Brian Eno through my health cub, the event included a panel with Brian, Stewart Brand and Zander Rose, which was a very generous gift of time and reputation for a fledgling idea such as Long Finance.

Bernard Lietaer also kindly gave of his time and energy for our inaugural event, proving to be both fascinating and charming in equal measure.

Our honoured guests seemed happy with the idea of light audience participation interludes for this event; Brian was positively encouraging of the idea, on the grounds that singing helps open up minds to fresh ideas.

Anyway, here are the two little ditties I concocted and conducted for the conference:

MY FUND MAN
(Song to the Tune of “My Old Man Said Follow The Van”)
My fund man,
Said “borrow and plan,
So don’t fret,
When you run up some debt”.
Off went me house to a mortgage tracker,
In went the cash to an equity knacker;
Which dillied, then rallied,
Rallied, then dillied,
Lost its way and sank just like a stone.
Oh you can’t trust the bankers,
They’re a load of…….thankless-
-Folk who repossessed my home.

Not the best I have ever written…nor the worst.

Home In On The Range
(Song to the Tune of “Home On The Range”)
Oh give me a home.
For the finance I own,
Where the bulls and the bears can all play;
With seldom a jump,
Or discouraging slump,
So that value’s preserved for decades.
Home in on the range,
Where the bulls and the bears can all play;
We’re girding our loins,
For some eternal coins,
Cos “Long Finance” is now here to stay!

After one of them, I think the first, Brian said “don’t give up the day job”, which sounded like highly sensible advice, yet said in a friendly, tongue in cheek manner.

We all enjoyed a decompression session at Z/Yen after the conference, after which Brian left us, as he had a diary clash with dinner; a BASIC event to organise at his studio. Stewart, Zander and Bernard joined we Z/Yen folk and others for an early evening “Musing Dinner” at the Farmers Club to continue the Long Finance discussions.

Before departing, Brian suggested that Stewart and I might like to join his BASIC event at the end of the evening, as I live round the corner from Brian’s studio and Stewart was staying very nearby.

So after the dinner, Stewart and I went to the studio. By that time, the formal elements of the BASIC evening were over and there was a party in full swing. Brian’s studio parties are always good fun and this one was no exception.

I discovered that I had acquired a sort-of groupie at the Long Finance conference; a young Swiss woman who lived nearby and had come along, I think at Brian’s suggestion, then gone on to the BASIC event. She spoke in glowing terms about the sing-song, which was rather flattering. I would run into her in the neighbourhood quite frequently for several months after this day. I don’t think she was stalking me. Nor I her, I hasten to add.

I wrote to Brian the next morning:

Just a quick note to thank you for your hospitality last night.  I met some very interesting, BASIC (and non-BASIC) people.  It is a real shame that our two events ended up clashing, as I would have enjoyed hearing the formal part of the evening.

I can report smugly that I soldiered my way to the gym at 8:00 this morning, but I shall no doubt need a power nap for a while this afternoon if I am to make it through the whole day.

Once again, many thanks.

That weekend, I received a short missive from Brian:

I saw a bloody piece in some paper or other which picked up my ‘Don’t give up the day job’ quip..of course. Why didn’t I see that one coming?

I’m sorry – it was meant as a joke, as I think you realised. In fact both Stewart and I were full of admiration that you had the balls to do that, and I think it was a great contribution to the event – it made people laugh, and also got them involved. I use singing myself often in serious situations, but usually at the end. The beginning is a good place too.

I hadn’t seen it. I needed to do some Googling to get to the bottom of the matter…The Evening Standard of course…then replied:

Many thanks for your kind words.

When The Evening Standard approves of everything we’re doing, then I might really consider giving up the day job.  Please don’t give that matter another thought.  Despite “The Standard”, Michael is suggesting that we make group singing a tradition of Long Finance gatherings.

More than seven years later, I tried to find the offending Standard piece, to link to this Ogblog piece.

Gone from The Standard site. Airbrushed out of history. Understandably so.

But, undaunted, I thought this would be an excellent test for the Wayback Machine, which I have oft thought about possibly using for Ogblog purposes but have not previously needed.

Well, it took some rummaging through the 305 billion or more Wayback Machine pages, but I surprisingly quickly found what I was looking for and scraped it to Ogblog: City Spy_ Singalong gives Willis and Brian Eno the blues… _ London Evening Standard.

I can cope with the indignity of the piece, but being so cruelly juxtaposed with a picture of Prince Andrew really gets my goat. In the interests of decency, The Standard could have used this august image instead: