Sunday, 18 February 2018


On 27th November 2017 Helen McClory asked on Twitter, 'What book or books forced you to have a reckoning with yourself, a re-evaluation however minor, of the course of your life?'.

I replied, 'Ecclesiastes. Written three thousand years ago, when everything was meaningless and there was nothing new under the sun, and read by a teenager in the 1980s, when everything was meaningless and there was nothing new under the sun.'

the mothers of invention

*a pair of tweets from 20 November 2017*

Necessity is the mother of invention. Frank Zappa needed a band. Frank Zappa and the Necessities. Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.

I'm not sure how long I thought it was a cool band name before I realised it was a brutal band name. Now I think it is both cool and brutal.

a manly injury

*A tweet/fb post from 16 November 2017*

- I don't feel well.
- oh! Did you sustain a manly injury while you were breaking up the old garden fence?
- ... no.
- what then?
- I was singing in the shower and inhaled shampoo suds.
- ... I see.
- I mean, really deeply.
- [walks away]
- a cup of tea would-
- [door slams]

*(in response on fb, my friend Tanja told me she once cut her hand, drawing blood, on a fried egg)*

astral weeks

Whenever I listen to Astral Weeks I think of the jazz musician interviewed in a 'making of' article thoroughly unimpressed that this - as far as he was concerned - unremarkable session work he was involved in was thought of as a classic rock album.


On Saturday 17th February we went to Brighton for the last day of half-term, and had a good day out.

black panther

On Thursday 15th Maisie and I went to the Genesis cinema late morning for the first showing of the day of Black Panther, which we both enjoyed.

la la land

On Valentine's Day (last Wednesday) we all watched La La Land on DVD (which Bethan had got for Christmas). We enjoyed it, a nice old-fashioned colourful musical, but I don't think it was as great as all the raving about it when it came out suggested.

Saturday, 17 February 2018


On Tuesday 13th February I finished Us by David Nicholls, which I quite enjoyed.

darkest hour; the post

On Friday 9th February Maisie and I saw Darkest Hour - the May 1940 drama starring Gary Oldman as Churchill - at the Empire Haymarket, which I hadn't been to for years). We both enjoyed it. Then on Saturday 10th we all went to the Empire Haymarket to see The Post - the story of the Washington Post and the Pentagon Papers, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks - and we all enjoyed that too.

Friday, 16 February 2018

idle hands and idle minds

I think the devil gets even more damaging mileage out of idle minds than idle hands.

what troubles my faith

My faith is troubled less by, say, the wicked prospering or the good not prospering than by the behaviour and beliefs of Christians. And I recognise that some of my own behaviour and I think especially beliefs are in the same way troubling to others, Christian or non-Christian. Oh for a simple faith.

(When I posted the first of these on Twitter and Facebook, some people 'liked' the first statement for reasons which I knew were the opposite of mine. Which was part of the reason for the acknowledgement of the second sentence.)

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

on not writing a book

Some unpolished thoughts on not writing a book.

Saturday, 10 February 2018


I'm six years behind in listening to Sodajerker's songwriter-interviewing podcast. It's a good series, and the one I've just listened to (No 8 of 111!) with Andy Partridge was truly fascinating. I don't know how these two fairly unknown people got such notable songwriters to talk to them, from the start.

yeah, dad

'"Yeah, Dad!"? How is that"Yeah, Dad!"?'

Friday, 9 February 2018

it's more complicated than that

Sometimes I think it would be good on Twitter to have alongside the 'Like' button an - well, not an 'Unlike' button, but at least an 'It's more complicated than that' button. I want a way of expressing my disagreement with someone/something with the minimum possibility of getting into a fight.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

a far cry from kensington

On Tuesday 6th February I finished reading A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Spark. I enjoyed it; may be my favourite of hers that I remember the reading of. There have been a couple that I wasn't that keen on in the last couple of years (along with a couple that I did like), so it's good to be reassured that I'm not mining a dodgy seam. She also, as I've had cause to remark before, has the additional benefit of writing fairly short books, which I approve of.


Last night Margaret came round, and we all watched Sully ('The Miracle on The Hudson') on DVD, which was better than I'd expected - I'd heard they'd overegged the post-crash courtroom jeopardy, but it wasn't too bad, and of course the incident itself is the main point of interest but it was a very short incident; that's certainly the best bit of the film, but it is necessarily short. But Tom Hanks never lets you down.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

the sittaford mystery

I started reading The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie this evening, but almost immediately was sure I'd read it before, though I didn't recognise it from the blurb and it was still marked as unread in my list. When I got home I looked it up on Wikipedia, which had a very detailed plot synopsis which gave away the whole plot (the level of plot detail given on Wikipedia pages about novels fluctuates greatly in general, but even for within the work of individual authors like Agatha Christie; I tend to avoid looking at them before reading the book in case they give too much away), and I had definitely read it. Reading the first chapter, it felt like it was in the last few years, so I'm surprised it wasn't in this blog even in draft form, but it doesn't seem to be. So I note it here for posterity, that I have in fact read it, though I can't remember what in particular I thought of it.

station eleven

On Saturday 4th March 2017 I finished Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, which I enjoyed a lot. Writing up The Ship prompts me that I hadn't actually written this up.

george whitefield's open-air preaching

Reading George Whitefield's journals; preaching in 1739 to 20-80k people in open spaces like Kennington Common ('about two miles from London'). The crowds *may* have been that big, but scarcely credible that they could all hear him.

Here's an interesting article on Whitefield's crowd sizes and audibility: The Science of Sound: Whitefield’s Massive Crowds.