Esprit de L’Escalier

Jamie: Daddy, do you know what the scientific name for a gorilla is?

Me: Gorilla.

Jamie: Actually, it is Gorilla gorilla.

Me: So, actually, I was nearly right nearly right.

(This final line only came to me a few moments too slow)

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Music Music

Robert & The Audreys (22 of 35)This is concert weekend in Adelaide.

Tonight I am going to see The Rolling Stones at the Adelaide Oval. Long story, arising out of a request for an interview by the local rag with my mate Neville.  They are all rather older than me.

Tomorrow, and stepping up a few notches in terms of musicality, I will be going to see The Audreys, who are much younger than me. Not only do I love their music, but am eternally grateful for their kindness in making it possible for me to do an EP, One Day in January, last year.  They were extraodinarily tolerant Continue reading

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Mirror Mirror

Lucy Mirror 14My 15 year old daughter Lucy thought it would be fun to make a silent movie, to enter for the International Youth Silent Film Festival.

Never mind that she is 5 years younger than the age limit. Never mind that – unlike the other entrants – she had no training, support or facilities made available to her by any school or college. She decided to do at all alone, to see if she could win through to the finals in Oregon, USA next June. So she made her movie, Mirror.

She has only bloody done it! The only independent production Continue reading

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Gough Guff

CastroIt is awful that Gough Whitlam has died, because it has unleashed a stomach-churning orgy of self-indulgent preening by the Australian socialists.

Gough Whitlam was Australia’s answer to Fidel Castro. As Prime Minister for a year or two in the 1970s, just a decade after Castro seized power in Cuba, he embarked upon an orgy of public spending which went a fair way to doing the near-impossible – ruining the Australian economy – with the same sort of rapidity as Castro in Cuba.

The similarities between the two men are more striking than their differences. Both were physically tall, both rabid egotists, both utterly indifferent to the economic ruin that they caused, both perfectly content to run to unsavoury corners of the world for financial help (Castro to Khrushchev in the USSR, Whitlam to Gaddafi in Libya) and both capable of inspiring undying if irrational devotion among zealots to their cause. But there is of course one big difference: Castro remained in power for half a century, during which time Cuba descended from the wealthiest of Caribbean nations to poorest, whereas Whitlam was removed from power before the damage he could do became Continue reading

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ISI hope I am wrong, of course.  But I fear that this week may have been the start of World War III.

It will not be like other world wars, of course, just as the previous ones have also come as unwelcome surprises. This one – if it develops – will see airstrikes matched by bombs on buses and trains, the drones of the western world answered by the scimitar, and appeals for level-headedness leading to beheadings.

It was the events in the Security Council of the UN this week that may well be seen as the watershed, from which there was no easy turning back. Omaba, Cameron, Hollande, Abbott et al were all competing with each other to demonstrate resolve against barbarity. They all felt, undoubtedly, that they had no choice but to declare war on IS.  If one’s children are being stung by bees, it is hard to resist the temptation to attack the beehive, even if Continue reading

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The Children Act

The Children ActSitting in my hotel room, some 30 floors up in Kuala Lumpur, I dodged out of post-conference drinks to finish Ian McEwan’s The Children Act.

It is quite short book, making a sort of trilogy with On Chesil Beach and Saturday. Its background is one I know well: the exhilaration of practising law at a high level, playing Bach and listening to Keith Jarrett, the pleasure of a decent malt whisky and so forth. Into this, he weaves much darker themes: the aching sadness of a long-term marriage turning sour, momentary glimpses of sensuality as the human body starts its descent into old age, and suicide. It is exquisitely written. By the time Continue reading

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A Nice Pair of Bristols

Bristol GlimpseGenerally, I take the view that money does not matter much, as long as you have got some.

How much “some” is might have just gone up.  It seems that Bristol Cars have not one but two new models coming up.

Details are, as yet, very sparse.  But one thing is for sure: neither of them will be cheap.

I love my Bristol 411.  But a new one? It might well be that Continue reading

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Pinking up the Flag

If Scotland were to leave the UK, should there be a change to the Union Flag (or Union Jack, as it is sometimes known, particularly if it flown as a jack, i.e. at the bow of a ship)? As is well known, it is a composite flag, incorporating elements from the English George Cross, the Scottish Saltire and the Irish St Patrick’s Cross.  There has been a fair bit of speculation on the point.

The Welsh did not get much of a look in for their red dragon on a green and while background. So we could just substitute Welsh green for the Scottish Saltire blue background:


Or, in tribute to the weather, grey Continue reading

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The Bright Side of the Moon

wallaceThe Scottish Independence referendum is in a couple of weeks. Only Scots in Scotland get to vote. On the usual basis that people should be allowed to do what they like, I say good for them. If the Scots like to believe that William Wallace wore a kilt, or woad, or was nice to children, or that they will be better off as an independent nation, good for them. Personally, I reckon that if they become independent, they will end as a basket case like Portugal, only with rubbish weather, within a decade. Definitely on the dark side of the moon. Hopefully they will still make and sell whisky.

But what about this side of the wall? As far as England is concerned, the only really compelling reason for union – originally under James I/VI – in the first place was to assist in discouraging Scottish thieves from raiding the North of England all the time. Now that raiding is out of fashion, there is an argument that Continue reading


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Bob’s Your Great Uncle

I was at home yesterday at 5.30 in the late afternoon when Louise said, “Would you like to go and see Bob Dylan in concert tonight?”.  He was in Adelaide, it seemed, as part of an  Australian tour, and Louise was being offered a pair of tickets by a friend. Having just finished the Times Crossword (gloat) I had nothing else pressing to do, so I said, “Sure.  Why not?”

DylanThe answer, it turns out, was, “Because this tour is absolutely awful”. He had a prefectly competent band, but everything was played in a plodding monotone, such that even his old (once good) songs were delivered in the same indistinguishable style. Both Dylan and his band played in semi-darkness, feebly backlit by a row of the sort of lights they use for night bowls games, but with low wattage bulbs. So it was impossible to see what was not worth listening too.

Dylan has been a great musician, with a wry sense of humour, who might have retired years ago, except that Continue reading


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