Thursday, 29 September 2016


On Friday 23rd September I went with Hei Mun to the Menier Chocolate Factory to see Travesties. I'd read it a few years ago, but had never seen it. I had remarked earlier that with Tom Stoppard you get jokes, things to think about, and jokes to think about, and that was borne out. I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd expected to, although it was well done; partly I think because I was tired, and partly because you could see why some people might think it 'too clever for its own good'. Tom Stoppard and Patrick Marber, the director, were both in the audience, and I saw in the programme that Tom Stoppard was very involved in the production, working with Patrick Marber, and drawing in old material and doing rewrites. It was a preview, so I'm sure they were still doing work on it, and there were a couple of hesitations in delivery. It was sold out, and I was very grateful to Hei Mun for being sufficiently organised, as she often is, to get tickets.

morris folk club - july, august and september

On Tuesday 26 July - after we all had a day walking from Kingston to Richmond, along the river - I went to Morris Folk Club (full setlist here). I sang I'm Free From The Chain Gang Now (which I know from Jimmy Rodgers, and which involves yodelling, but I got everyone to join in with that, so no one is innocent) and Wallet (the Regina Spektor song). Re the latter, as I said at the time, if a song that mentions an industry from days gone by is a folk song, then this is a folk song; the industry in this case being video rental shops.

We got back from Greenbelt on Tuesday 30th August in the afternoon, and in the evening I went to the Morris Folk Club (full setlist here). I sang Derwentwater's Farewell and (in tribute to my first experience at a music festival) The Rutles' Nevertheless.

My introduction to Nevertheless was, inevitably, longer than the song itself. I love Nevertheless, though it doesn't exactly represent my world view, but that's true of many folk songs; and if you had to precede them all with a disclaimer then in the preceding week alone I'd also have had to say that I am not committed to the restoration of the Stuarts to the throne, I have not lent my wife to someone for an hour and a day, I am not in fact dead, and I do not fear dying an old maid in a garret.

At the September Morris Folk Club, on Tuesday 27th (full setlist here), I sang Good King Wenceslas (hey, it's clearly a folk song, and a good song's a good song any time of year, no?) and Randy Newman's Losing You. I didn't tell the story of the inspiration for the latter, as it's a powerful story that would overwhelm my singing of the song, but here's Randy telling it.

I think I did alright on each of the nights.

we need to talk about kevin

I decided to bail out of We Need To Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver. I read about a quarter of it, mostly on holiday earlier this month when I picked it up secondhand, but it wasn't quite what I'd expected. I'd thought it was about the aftermath of a school atrocity, and its impact on a family and a community, which it was to an extent, but it was much more a detailed analysis of the relentlessly awful child Kevin's family's life from before conception to the atrocity, as if trying (without expectation of success) to understand or explain how and why he had turned out as he did. It was perfectly well written, but I just wasn't that interested in or desirous of reading such an account. A quarter of the way in he had just been born, and by then it had become clear the book was going to go through his whole life - and that of his family - in grim detail, and I thought to myself that I really wasn't up for that. I picked it up again last night for the first time since the holiday - and it's notable that I hadn't been inclined to pick it up at all since then - and quickly knew that I couldn't face the slog. I had a flick through, and a look at the end; and I looked at the plot summary on Wikipedia. It's bound for the charity shop bag now, and I am content.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

the essex serpent

On Sunday 18th September I finished reading The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. I'd got fed up of having to avoid learning too much about it before the paperback came out, so I ordered it from the library. It was very good; among the best books I've read for quite a while.

Friday, 16 September 2016

finding dory

On Thursday 25th August, during the day, Maisie and I went to the Genesis cinema to see Finding Dory, which was very good.

punk exhibition; what we did on our holidays

On Friday 19th August, after we saw Susannah and Becky off at King's Cross, Maisie and I went to the British Library, where we saw the free exhibition on Punk, which was more interesting for me than it was for her. I was reminded by one photo how taken I was at the time with Poly Styrene, of X-Ray Spex, and Germ Free Adolescents.

After we got home we watched a film on Netflix, which Maisie was very keen to do; we eventually found one we both wanted to see, What We Did On Our Holidays, and that turned out to be pretty good, rather better than I'd expected.

a day in town; lincoln

On Friday 5th August Maisie and I went into town. We went to the Photographers Gallery (my first time in its new location, just south-east of Oxford Circus), in the morning so we got in free. They had an interesting Terence Donovan exhibition on. We had a Costa lunch, then went over to the Handel and Hendrix House Museum, which was less busy and more interesting than I expected, and did give you a sense of the home surroundings of both of those musicians. We began meandering down, and hit the back of Sotheby's, which had a big sign about the Bowie Collector exhibition, which I'd forgotten about - they were auctioning off his art collection, and you could go in for free to see some of it in advance of the auction. So in we went, and it was interesting to see; he'd made some good purchases.

Then in the evening we all watched the Spielberg/Day-Lewis film, Lincoln, which I enjoyed a lot, and certainly more than my compadres. It was a wordy history lesson, but I was up for that.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

foreign secretary

Perhaps a charming liar is ideal foreign secretary material.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

tate modern extension

On Thursday 4th August Maisie and I went to the Tate Modern's new Switch House extension. Modern art really is the perfect combination of absolute con and absolute racket.

savoy tup session

On Tuesday 2 August I went to the first of Tim's Savoy Tup Sessions. I took my guitar to join in, in one-chord fashion, with tunes, but we also ended up going round singing some songs. I hadn't quite expected that, for some reason, but I went to my core Corries repertoire and sang Highland Lament and Cruel Brother. I enjoyed playing along with people who could play properly, and hope to do so again.