Saturday, 16 June 2018

the moderate soprano

Last Saturday (9th) we went to the matinee of The Moderate Soprano at the Duke of York's Theatre. We enjoyed it.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

guitar accoutrements

I bought a new capo for my guitar today, to replace the pair I've been using for over thirty years (some people looked at those mysterious, ancient objects in the same way as they'd look at a wax cylinder recording).

Friday, 8 June 2018

local election tweets

Pulling together some of my tweets around May's local elections.

23rd April: Surprising local election leaflet count so far in this Southwark - Newington ward household: Greens 2 The Rest 0. Just 10 days to go! Election leafleting here usually ends up roughly LD 12 Lab 4 Rest 1 each. Greens going big on housing issues.

28th April: Saturday before local elections on Thursday. Continued surprise as local election leaflet count so far in this Southwark - Newington ward household remains Greens 2 The Rest 0.

30th April: Last night the stats changed to Greens 2 Labour 1 The Rest 0. Two of the incumbent councillors and one new candidate. Emphasising past achievements, housing and local environment.

James replied re heavy Lib Dem leafletting in his ward. I said, in a pair of tweets, 'The LD absence is the most surprising. Was always a formidable leafletting operation, in and out of election season. Simon Hughes lost seat in 2015, & not regaining in 2017 may have made them lose heart, having expected to be forgiven after the 2015 coalition punishment beating. (Our ward had been LD until 2010 when - same day as the general election - they surprisingly went Labour, as did the council. One of the 3 in our ward played the Stephen Twigg role, a national policy advisor clearly making up the ballot-paper numbers without expecting to win.)'

2nd May [to the three Labour candidates; no reply]: Newington Estate cleanliness has really declined, and would be helped by a leaflet drop reminding people of the various collection days, and making bulky waste collections free. (I'd rather that than extend free school meals promise.)

3rd May into 4th May (each para a Tweet):
Local election day. Leaflets stayed at Greens 2 Labour 1 The Rest 0. Got one doorknock (when we were in, at least), from Labour, last night. Maybe surviving LDs are working somewhere 'more winnable'. Well, 10 years ago we had a LD MP and LDs as largest party in council.

The three Labour candidates in our ward: @JamesColdwellUK @EleanorKerslake and @Alicemac83. Two sitting councillors; all three timelines full of politics.

The three LibDem candidates in our ward: @Har_Shone, Mr Doran and Mr Bigos - couldn't find on Twitter, don't even have biogs on the LibDem candidates page: Harriet does, but you wouldn't know from her timeline. Shocked the extent to which LDs've given up.

Our 3 Green candidates: @campaigner71, Mr Powell & Ms Belcheva, who I couldn't find on Twitter. One up from the LDs in having a candidate who's politically engaged on Twitter. (I know Twitter is far from the measure of everything, but it's the measure I'm using in this exercise.)

Finally, our 3 Tory candidates: @sukesbad, @WillAmor (locked, but I'm guessing) and Mr Lyons, who I couldn't find on Twitter. Sue has a fully engaged local politics timeline - and Macca in her header, so she can't be all bad. ;-)

Any conclusions? If I were going to vote based on Twitter evidence of political activity/engagement alone, I'd be choosing between 3 Lab, 1 Con and 1 Green (with the Green very focussed on the single - but locally major - issue of housing and redevelopment).

I was genuinely surprised that so many seeking election didn't have a Twitter presence (that I could find), which made me wonder how many were just ballot-space-fillers. I guess more common in local than national election candidates.

[I got pleasant replies from Sue the Conservative and Betiel the Green, and a pleasant exchange with Harriet the Lib Dem. Nothing from any of the Labour candidates.]

Local election results come in sooo slowly, over days it seems, and whatever the results everyone claims they've done well. It would be madness to stay up for any of the coverage. #settlesdown

Douglas replied, 'Yup. You wouldn’t catch me staying up. Ooo they’ve got John Mac on BBC News...'

I replied, 'And @bbclaurak, who I like even more after hearing her on #Brexitcast. And I like @huwbbc's chairing of election coverage. It's all a jollier affair.'

Douglas said (of John Mcdonnell, further to above), 'Who is playing expectations down heavily.'

I replied, 'Tories got in much earlier with the expectation management, saying if they don't lose Boroughs like Westminster and Wandsworth - which they've held since the time of William The Conqueror - they'll have done well.'

And added, 'Did you see my earlier tweets re the Lib Dems' complete abandoning of the field in our ward? Really surprising. I know one woman who didn't vote for them because they hadn't even bothered to put a leaflet through our - I mean her - door.'

Douglas replied, 'Heh. Yes, I guess it’s the impact of limited resources and putting a lot of faith that your traversing is right.'

Douglas said, 'After the last couple of months of incompetence from the Tories it should be a landslide to Labour'

I replied, 'Labour haven't been covering themselves in glory as an effective opposition, however, and the antisemitism issue has been awful and ugly for them, probably in London in particular.'

Douglas said, 'I like Laura too. Very sharp and clearly enjoys the whole thing.'

[Back to tweets] The @bbcbiasbot is a brilliant Twitter account. On almost every screen you will see completely contradictory accusations of BBC bias in adjacent Tweets.

In general I much prefer election coverage where the studio is filled with journalists and psephologists rather than current MPs.

I can't even claim that knowledge, and I'm watching the stuff too. [Quote RTing this tweet by Callum May:] Honestly can’t believe I’m still awake at 1.30am and all I really have to show for it is knowledge of which party will control Amber Valley District Council

John McDonnell and Claire Perry were very fighty; she was more aggressive, he was more interrupty. As with the @bbcbiasbot, quite amusing to search them on Twitter and see the opposite perceptions of their supporters as to who was behaving well and who badly.

Harriet replied to my Tweet in which she was atted: 'Afraid I was just a paper candidate. Feel it's important to offer a LibDem candidate everywhere, even where it is not sensible to target resources. Obviously I don't anticipate winning!'

I replied, 'Thanks Harriet! We used to have LD councillors in our ward - including Caroline Pidgeon - and of course a LD MP, with a formidable year-round LD leafletting operation until recently. Just surprised the extent to which that has gone so quickly. That's politics, I guess!'

She replied, 'We definitely had some serious candidates elsewhere in the borough!Just looking ward by ward and this patch wasn't a good place for us to target limited resources. I've got everything crossed for my more determined colleagues elsewhere tho!'

[This confirmed something James G had said re LDs targetting their resources, but I hadn't imagined they actually did it ward by ward, but I guess they did.]

I replied, 'Neil Coyle was our councillor too. Who knows where you'd have been catapulted by your stint as a councillor in the magical Newington ward! ;-)'

She replied, 'Well, maybe next time! 😂'

I stayed up till 3.30, and he speaks the truth. [Quote RTing this tweet by Jim Pickard:] Sir John Curtice has a far from energising message for everyone who stayed up all night to watch Britain's municipal elections: "Not a great deal has happened."

[In response to a tweet with a photo of the results for one Southwark ward in which one Green Party candidate was listed in the results as 'Green Party Lead Candidate', in a way that suggested that that's what had been on the ballot paper]: That's interesting, I've never seen a candidate designated as a 'lead candidate' of a party's candidates on a ballot paper before. I guess it's a way to focus the voting of people who are thinking 'I'll give one of my votes to the [in this case] Greens'.

[While RTing a link by Isabel Hardman to a Spectator article headed 'Jeremy Corbyn attacks Tory local election spin', saying 'Very defensive response from Corbyn to the local election results':] Poor Jeremy, being taken advantage of by those wily expectation-managing Tories. How could this breath-of-fresh-air political outsider possibly have known his party should have been doing the same, when he's only been an elected politician for [checks Wikipedia] 44 years.

Worth noting that of those with a/cs that I @'ed in this thread, I got genial replies from @sukesbad, @campaigner71 and @Har_Shone, to all of whom I wish future success. [All three of them replied nicely to this one also.]

[I RTed a map of Southwark's results, which was interesting in that the only yellow wards were along the river. One is grey because the election in that ward was postponed because of the death of one of the candidates.]

nero wolfe dvds

We've watched the first disc in the Nero Wolfe DVD box set I got for my birthday. An Australian import, just as the currently-available novels are US imports. It's a mystery to me why these old-fashioned and witty detective stories are so under-appreciated.


I genuinely prefer non-summer weather to summer weather, and find summers more depressing; people think I'm being wilfully contrary, but it's true. I *am* from the Outer Hebrides, but it's a minority view even there.

Partly it's the heat; partly it's the relentless, unhelpful beauty on display.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

freemasons' hall

On Thursday 1st June 2018 - during half-term - Maisie and I, being in Covent Garden area after buying dayseats for the aforeblogged Half A Sixpence and a guitar tuner on Denmark Street (a Snark, as used/recommended by friends in Morris Folk Choir, which I would never be without now), went to visit The Freemasons' Hall.

half a sixpence

On Thursday 1st June 2017 - during half term - Maisie and I got day seats for the matinee of Half a Sixpence at the Noel Coward Theatre in St Martin's Lane. It was okay.

Monday, 4 June 2018

the third man / the fallen idol

I rarely read a book in a day these days, but yesterday I read Graham Greene's The Third Man / The Fallen Idol, which I enjoyed. Hurrah for short books.

(As he says in his interesting introduction, they weren't written for publication in the first instance, but as a starting point for the films which would be made of them (and that all the changes were as a result of creative collaboration between himself and the director). He does confirm in the introduction that the 'cuckoo clock' paragraph was provided by Orson Welles, though Wikipedia indicates the idea in it wasn't original to him.)

Friday, 1 June 2018


On Saturday 31st March, in the evening, we all saw Quiz at the Noel Coward Theatre. About the 'coughing major' scandal on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, we enjoyed it. It was written by James Graham, who did This House; he's clearly good at turning real-life events into plays.

chislehurst caves

Yesterday we (with Bethan's dad) went down to Chislehurst Caves for the first time, which was interesting and worth doing. We had a pleasant American tour guide, though everything he told us about the caves' history before World War II was wrong. The caves are indeed the product of mining, but not by Druids, Saxons and Romans - evidence suggests 13th-19th century mining. A pleasant and relaxed day out, though, as long as you don't mind spending a lot more time travelling than at the actual attraction - train (to Bromley South) and bus down, one-hour tour, lunch at local pub (The Bickley), train back to London Bridge.

Monday, 28 May 2018

song for guy

You wouldn't think that you could mishear the lyrics in a song that only has one line, but for most of my life I believed that the one line in Elton John's Song For Guy was 'Life is a terrible thing'. #lifeisnteverything #pagingdoctorfreud

Saturday, 26 May 2018

a Christian in tv fiction

An interesting article in Relevant on that rarest of things, a sympathetic portrayal of a Christian in TV fiction: Saying Goodbye to ‘Grey’s Anatomy’s Lone Christian Character.

judging oneself and others

Simon Evans on Twitter asked, 'can anyone tell me, what is that (fallacy? heuristic?) called whereby we are inclined to blame others' poor character for their bad behaviour, but cut ourselves some slack based on low blood sugar, tiredness etc?'.

He got various answers, specific and general, including this from Dan Bull: 'I've heard it expressed as "we judge others by their actions, and ourselves by our intentions"'.

To which I replied, 'I've found this works in both directions, in that you are aware of your own horribly mixed motives in relation to every goodish thing you do yourself, but see the good deeds of others as arising out of their simply, lovely goodness.'

shruti box

I have come to the realisation that the musical instrument I want/need for drone notes/chords to sing to is not any of the simpler and simpler (but oh, so expensive!) versions of accordion/melodeon/concertina I've been imagining but the even simpler shruti box. Still expensive!

'god bless'

I really dislike Christians deploying 'God bless' as a weapon. That's really taking God's name in vain. cf 'I'll pray for you'.

Friday, 25 May 2018

in the middle of the sitting room

One of the differences between my wife and me is that when one of us is standing in the middle of the sitting room looking intently at something, if it is me then I am looking at the bookshelves and if it is her then she is looking at the garden.


Sometimes you need to change or get out of the situation you are in, and sometimes you need to change or get out of the way you are thinking in the situation you are in. That's my thought for today.


By the age of 35 you are middle-aged. Seriously, how long do you think you are going to live? #whyiseveryonewritingtweetsstartingbytheageof35 #joininginanyway

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

man of the world

I don't believe there's ever been a better pop song about depression than Fleetwood Mac's Man Of The World. A No2 chart hit in 1969, imagine.

managing work

There are people who if they asked me to produce something for a thing would think of something else I could produce for that thing if I gave it to them early, as if I had no other work but theirs. I learnt to not give it to them early; they were no worse off, I was better off.