Saturday, 29 October 2016


On Friday 28th October, in the afternoon before going out, we (with granny) watched Tracks, a film which Maisie had bought in a charity shop a few months ago, and which turned out to be a good choice of Maisie's. It was based on the true story of a woman trekking by herself with camels and dog through a long stretch of Australian desert. It was quite well done. It reminded me of the kind of film I used to go to see in my first few years in London, the kind of independent/niche/arthouse film which would be in a few select screens in London and not make it significantly beyond London, some of which were not very good but many of which were well worth seeing and made you glad to be in London. If we have an evening out now, however, we're much more likely to go to live entertainment, as the cinema is so expensive (and DVDs are so cheap, second-hand or in Fopp).

tate britain

On Wednesday 26th October we all (with granny) went to Tate Britain, the first time in years I've been there, and the first time since their big rehang two or three years ago, which took the apparently radical approach of putting the main collection into chronological, which seems obvious and sensible.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

hercule poirot's christmas

On Monday 24th October I finished Hercule Poirot's Christmas. It was okay.

morris folk club - october

It was Morris Folk Club on Tuesday. It being half term, and my mother being down, we all went.

I sang April Morn and A Sailor's Life, which went fine.

April Morn from the Trio Threlfall's version. April Morn is one of the million variations on Early One Morning. Whenever I think of Early One Morning I think of Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do Ave Em; he sang it, and the association has stuck for ever.

A Sailor's Life from the Fairport Convention version. I did my best to avoid just doing an awful attempted copying of Sandy Denny (which I could have done, with all the long notes and grace notes badly rendered, having sung along with it a million times), by singing it more simply; reducing the number of long notes and grace notes; I was worried it might be a bit bitty, with more space between the lines and phrases than I usually have (partly because of singing it more simply, partly because the Fairport version I know is like that, quite spread out, but Michelle particularly remarked on liking the space in it, which I will bear in mind).

I also sang The Wagoner's Lad in a duet with Tanja, from the Kossoy Sisters' version, which went rather well I thought. I do like singing harmony with others; the choir sang one of theirs, What Will We Do With The Baby-O, and Tanja sang/played at least one more at folk club, so I'd suggested that we could do one together, and that's what we went for.

Best of all, however, was persuading my mother to sing. I haven't heard her sing in public for many years. She sang Milleadh nam Bràithrean, beautifully of course, and to general acclaim. Proud son.

(Full setlist here, on this new page I've set up on the Morris choir's website to save all the setlists.)

Monday, 24 October 2016

girl on a plane

On Friday night I finished reading Girl On A Plane by Miriam Moss, a fictionalised account published in 2015 of her own experience of being on a hijacked plane in 1970, when she was fifteen. It was interesting as an account of the experience - though changed for dramatic, expository and other reasons - but not so much as a book in itself, though it was a quick and easy read.

Monday, 17 October 2016


On Monday 8th August we all went, with Lientjie, to see Allegro at the Southwark Playhouse. It was okay.

the woman in black; star trek into darkness

On Saturday 15th October Maisie and I started but abandoned The Woman In Black, and watched Star Trek Into Darkness - two DVDs we'd got from the library in a two for one, £1 for a week, rental (that afternoon, on the way home from Draughts, the board game cafe).

draughts - the board game cafe

On Saturday 15th October Maisie and I went to Draughts, the board game cafe in Hackney, 10.20-2.20, roughly, and had a very good time.

Friday, 14 October 2016


On Monday 1 August we all went in the evening, with Lientjie and Mary, to the Charing Cross Theatre to see Titanic. Well all enjoyed it, I think.

babes in arms

On Friday 29 July in the evening we all, with Hei Mun and Laura, went to see Babes In Arms at Ye Olde Rose And Crown in Walthamstow. It was nicely done, with a few folk we've seen before in off-West End musicals, both in All Star Productions in Ye Olde and also elsewhere (including Ruth Betteridge in the lead female role, who's pretty good). Nothing special to note about it, especially at this distance, just another good production from a pretty reliable production company.

the quarry

On Wednesday 17th August I finished The Quarry by Iain Banks. His last book, written while he was dying and published after his death. I don't think it will be remembered as one of his classics; I found it just okay.


On Thursday 28 July we went down by train to Brighton (direct from Elephant & Castle) for the day, including going to the Brighton Royal Pavilion. It was quick and easy and good fun, and not too expensive, with something for everyone, and I think we'll do that again.

the bourne identity

In the afternoon on Wednesday 27 July we all went to the Genesis cinema to watch Jason Bourne. We all liked it quite well. (Maisie hadn't seen any before, we'd seen the first two I think, but it didn't matter.) Mostly an assemblage of long and well-done chase/action/tension sequences (if somewhat far-fetched, especially the climactic one) which can be tedious if less well-done and less plot-driven and plot-driving. Nice to see one of these now and again, especially if it's a good one (not nice to see the tedious ones, like a lot of the superhero ones).

in the heights

On the evening of Monday 25 July we all went to the King's Cross Theatre to see In The Heights, the modern musical set in New York. We thought it was okay, but not as good everyone raving about it - and most of the rest of the very enthusiastic audience - thought. And it was too loud.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

the woman in black

On Thursday 21st July - as a kind of forerunner to our activity-filled family week off in London - Maisie and I went to see the matinee performance of The Woman In Black at the Fortune Theatre. It was pretty good.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

not to disturb

Yesterday I finished Not To Disturb, by Muriel Spark. I didn't like it much.

Sunday, 9 October 2016


Yesterday evening we all, with Margaret and Jack from church, went to St George's Bloomsbury to see the inaugural concert of a new female choir, Gloriana. They were very good, though I'd have liked it a little better if they'd had a wider range of pieces in their evening of short pieces, straying earlier than the nineteenth century. We went because Mary Reid was accompanying them on harp on one piece, and then also played a solo harp piece. I'd be happy to hear them again, though they weren't cheap. Favourite piece might have been a very recent and atmospheric piece called Northern Lights by Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds.

Friday, 7 October 2016

how the other half loves

On Thursday 18th August, while Maisie went to see Wicked with Susannah and Becky, Bethan and I went to see How The Other Half Loves, the Alan Ayckbourn play, at the Duke of York's in St Martin's Lane. It was okay. It was well written, interestingly structured and well performed (especially Nicholas le Prevost, Matthew Cottle and Gillian Wright). But I was never really at ease with comedy based on infidelity, and suspect I'm even less at ease with it now.

morley chamber choir at st john's waterloo

On Friday 1 July Maisie and I went to see Bethan in the Morley Chamber Choir at St John's Waterloo, doing Haydn's Te Deum and Mozart's Missa Brevis in F (and I think something else slipped in also, possibly by Handel, though it wasn't on the flier). Laura was there also.

They were good, of course; still pretty low on men. The Morley Choral Society also did a Vespers by Mozart, which was an interesting contrast; much bigger, and more of a community choir; less technically proficient, but seeming to be enjoying themselves and rightly pleased to be making a go of such a piece.


On Saturday 2nd July, in the afternoon, Maisie and I went to see Gobsmacked in the Udderbelly at the South Bank Centre (Bethan spent most of the day at a Brownies sports day). It was a Glee kind of thing - half a dozen singers - one of them a beat-boxer - singing pop songs together in harmony, in a very particular harmonic style. I enjoyed it, and was glad to have seen something like it, but I didn't feel the need to seek out more of it. It was quite samey, and quite mellow, in the same way that pop choirs also end up being, which always seems unnecessary and surprising. Why not take a range of approaches to harmony/arrangement, without even having to widen the range of songs being done (though there'd be no harm in that either).

juliet, naked

On Friday 27th May I finished Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby. I enjoyed it, though it was a familiar structure of obsessive chap neglecting and in danger of losing his long-suffering and far superior partner (although, being a fan of detective fiction and romantic comedy, I'm very much at ease with familiar structures).


We went to Dubai for February half-term - flew out on Monday 15 February, flew back on Sunday 21st February - to visit friends. It was good to see them.

the global language

British people are able to go pretty much anywhere in the world and be fairly sure that the only language we speak will be one of the several which most of the people we need to interact with will be able to speak. The important thing is to remember that this doesn't make us better than them, but not as good as them.

the sea in which we all swim

How offended some are at the rare sight (in print or on screen) of a fish they think has a 'pro-life bias' in the 'pro-choice' sea in which we all swim.

Monday, 3 October 2016

tooting folk club - tim jones and the dark lanterns

On Saturday 1st October I went down to the Tooting Folk Club (in The Selkirk pub, near Tooting Broadway) to see Tim Jones and the Dark Lanterns. A bit unfair asking them to follow The Beatles, whose live documentary I'd watched in the cinema that afternoon. I'd seen them in full performance before at the CD launch, when Morris joined in with St Giles Bowl, but they're a smaller band at the moment - Tim, Ted Kemp (on concertina) and Karen Phillips (on fiddle). Tim and the band went down very well, deservedly so; Karen soldiered through the second set with just three strings.

the beatles: eight days a week - the touring years

On Saturday 1st October I went to see The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years, which is a rather unwieldy title. I saw it in an afternoon showing at the Picturehouse Central, which is the former Trocadero cinema near Piccadilly Circus, having been bought and given an overhaul. The ground and first floor are completely revamped (in fact there didn't used to be a ground floor), with cafes, bars and a new entrance to the street, but once you get to the escalators up to the cinemas you are in familiar territory.