Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Church and Sex

I am grateful for the observation shared in the pub this evening.

When it comes to sex - the Church of England is much like a swimming pool.

Most of the noise comes from the shallow end.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Dobro jutro

Thanks to Airbnb I spent this evening at home, with two Croatians, watching Portugal beat the Czech Republic at football.

Being impressed, and feeling inadequate, by my ten year old Croatian guest's command of the english language, I asked him to explain the offside rule in English.

So - if I can manage 'Good Morning' in Croatian tomorrow - he will give the offside rule his best shot in English.

Dobro jutro, one and all.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Art is a "Waste of Time"

Well, no, it isn't as it happens.

In the last twenty four hours I have:

Minded my own business before the discobolus at the British Museum.

Paused briefly as I wandered  through a room devoted to sketches by Pablo Picasso.

Sat, mostly awake, in a theatre whilst persons unknown, re-created 'Billy Budd' by Benjamin Britten.

I am changed by these things. 

Which, I read, is the purpose of art.

Sunday, 17 June 2012


Yesterday I went on a Pilgrimage.

I, and my companions:

Were afforded hospitality;

Were travelling together;

Were allowed to be alone;

Were well fed and watered;

Were not in Bethnal Green.
We shall go again.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Venereal Disease

Sixty years ago, in 1952 the Venereal Disease Unit at Bethnal Green Hospital closed its doors to patients.

It was part an infirmary built by the Board of Guardians of the Parish of St Matthew, Bethnal Green.

Demand for its beds had dimished with the introduction of sulphonamide drugs and penicillin.

To my knowledge, the current management of the parish have no plans to revive it.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Peire Cardenal

Wandering around an obscure corner of Spotify I discover Peire Cardenal.

Born around 1180,  little of his music survives, but I find myself strangely drawn to that which does.

He was well known for his dislike of the clergy and his discovery of vernacular lyric poetry led him to abandon his career in the church in favour of  "the vanity of this world".

As he reputedly lived to be a hundred, that doesn't seem to have been too unwise a choice.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Under Milk Wood

Out of (dis) interest, I googled "wet sunday tidy shop".

Four words that summed up the third quartile of my day.

The first result the people at Google decided I should see was a reference to Under Milk Wood.

To the geeks out there...

Please explain algorithyms.

I sure as hell don't understand them.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Advice for next time please

Customer :  "Got any books on Conspiracy Theory?"

Me :  "I'm sorry Sir, I don't think we do".

Customer : " Huh. I don't believe you".

Now, where would you have taken that conversation?

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Back to 1917

Better historians than I may be able to tell us what the British Army were doing here in 1917. 

Had the Kaiser come to claim Cleopatra?  Had Zeppelins been sighted over the Sphinx?

All I know is that the man on the middle camel is Vic, my grandfather, who you have met earlier at a bullfight and in the Garden of Gethsemene.

The inscription on the back of this photo, in his handwriting, simply says, "Pyramids. Eygpt. 1917."

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Exercise depression

Widely reported news today from Bristol. There is no scientific evidence for earlier claims that exercise is helpful in the treatment of "clinical depression".

(Peer reviewed and published in the BMJ).

Never having engaged with anti-depressant medication, electro convulsive therapy or exercise, I shall continue to recommend the Reverend Sydney Smith's advice to Lady Georgiana Morpeth dated 16 February, 1820.

To my knowledge it has never been bettered as a counter to low spirits.

Dear Georgiana,

Nobody has suffered more from low spirits than I have—so I feel for you. Here are my prescriptions.
1st Live as well as you dare.
2nd Go into the shower-bath with a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold.
3rd Amusing books.
4th Short views of human life—not further than dinner or tea.
5th Be as busy as you can.
6th See as much as you can of those friends who respect and like you.
7th And of those acquaintances who amuse you.
8th Make no secret of low spirits to your friends, but talk of them freely—they are always worse for dignified concealment.
9th Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you.
10th Compare your lot with that of other people.
11th Don't expect too much from human life—a sorry business at the best.
12th Avoid poetry, dramatic representations (except comedy), music, serious novels, melancholy sentimental people, and every thing likely to excite feeling or emotion not ending in active benevolence.
13th Do good, and endeavour to please everybody of every degree.
14th Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue.
15th Make the room where you commonly sit, gay and pleasant.
16th Struggle by little and little against idleness.
17th Don't be too severe upon yourself, or underrate yourself, but do yourself justice.
18th Keep good blazing fires.
19th Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion.
20th Believe me, dear Georgiana, your devoted servant, Sydney Smith

Monday, 4 June 2012

Semen and Sleep

A day that began with a discussion on Radio 4 that included more semen than I expected at that hour, turned out remarkably well, with the aid of much sleep.

9.30   Seminal discussion

10.30  Back to bed

12.30 Parish Barbeque

1.30 Fell to sleep at said barbeque

3.00  Awoke from sleep and went home to bed (to sleep)

5.00 Arose from sleep

7.00 Attended party in Bloomsbury with young people who need less sleep than I.

10.00 Home to sleep.

My understanding of being fifty (so far) is that more sleep than semen is required.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Dead Man's Hole

My resolve not to watch weakened and I turned it on.

The lamentable coverage by the BBC and the realisation that watching something on television as it happens ten minutes down the road is ludicrous,  combined to get me up off my backside just as Sir Steve Redgrave passed under Lambeth Bridge.

A little local knowledge, a lot of luck and a hole in security that ought to result in the Home Secretary's resignation, and I found myself here eight minutes before the first boat.

Out of the rain, directly under Tower Bridge and with an uninterrupted view of the river I was able to enjoy the spectacle, feel virtuous for having been for a Sunday afternoon walk and have a tale to tell.

I don't think the Queen spotted me, but as I emerged I got a very cute, if quizzical, smile from a nice young man in the uniform of a Constable.

By no means a wasted afternoon.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Sri Pada

This is Sri Pada in Sri Lanka.

In the lingua franca it is "the place where butterflies go to die".

It is the only proper mountain I have ever climbed.

As I recall, getting up it was a great deal harder and less pleasurable than coming down the other side.

On the day following my fiftieth birthday I am tempted by tortuous analogies.

For everyones sake, I intend to resist them.