Seveno CC v Indian High Commission at Joseph Hood Rec

For the first time in some while, I played cricket yesterday. The match report is regurgitated below, but obviously there was no space within it to write at great length about my own performance, which is what I will do here, on my own personal blog, instead. Because no-one can stop me.
I am terrible at cricket. I didn’t play until I was 30 and I’ve got progressively worse ever since. But yesterday I batted at the unexpectedly high position of number seven, because of a series of unlikely events. This meant I had plenty of time to play myself in, feel bat on ball, and not panic too much.
And it was thoroughly enjoyable. Jason farmed the strike as much as he could, and we ran between the wickets rather well and enjoyed a partnership of 20-odd, with me scoring… two.
I ended on 2*, after the brought their opening bowler back on and I watched from the other end as a procession of our batsman came and went in the blink of an eye.
My bowling performance… I’d rather not talk about. I was so bad the umpire (and opposition captain) actually suggested I be taken off.
Ah well.
Seveno CC v Indian High Commission at Joseph Hood Rec
The mighty Seveno zeppelin is airborne for another season, after a thoroughly enjoyable if, erm, low-scoring encounter at Joseph Hood Rec.
Your correspondent rolled up just before 1pm to find seven fellow Sevenonians and 2-3 IHC ringers making up our team, and the welcome news that we were batting.
Start of play was delayed for five minutes while Seveno rustled up two vaguely competent umpires, and then we were away, with Gopal and Nishant opening the batting, but after an early four and some quick running Gopi is bowled by Abhisar, sending Randy to the middle.
It’s a special season for our Skipper, who is raising money for the British Heart Foundation by donating for each run scored and each catch taken behind the stumps – and you can also sponsor him by clicking on this link.
An early four gets the quids rolling, but Randy slices to point for 8 off the bowling of Santosh, and with Nish very cooly taken at mid-off by the same man, the Purple Anchor were wobbling slightly, like the Hindenburg on its way to New Jersey.
Jason’s game was in good working order, but with IHC stand-ins Praneel and Nirmal not sticking around too long, Seveno’s tail started with, well, me, promoted up the order to number seven due to my good recent form (2 runs in the past three seasons).
I managed to stick around for a few overs, Jason farming the strike well until Santosh was recalled into the attack, getting quick reward by bowling fast and straight and sending Jase on his way for 23.
From here, I had an excellent view from the safety of the other end as Jon Wakely and Paul “Harxy” Von-Harker were clean bowled before they even had a chance to think about considering getting their eye in.
With Paddy poking a catch off Rajesh and IHC’s Sachin not troubling the scorers, Seveno found themselves 64 all out and in need of snookers.
We gave it a go. Harxy got a wicket, LBW, from his second ball, and when Gopal clean bowled the other opener we felt we had a chance of giving them a scare. But there just wasn’t enough runs to play with – particularly with me coming on first change.
But there were some glimmers of hope amid the twisted girders and charred metal of our overall performance. First, Jason and Nish combined to turn a dropped catch into an excellent run-out, and skipper Randy produced some nifty glovework to complete a a stumping and then took an excellent low catch to leave IHC five down and if not limping over the line, then certainly not waltzing over it either.
So a cheering start to the season despite the defeat, with encouraging bowling performances from Gopi and Harxy, and a good effort with the bat from Jason. Let’s just treat this one as a warm-up and blame the defeat on the ringers.
Quotes of the Day
“I already had one four in the over, so what was I doing?” – Nish bemoans his greed with great hindsight
“Fucking… fuck.” – Randy talks himself through his dismissal
“I didn’t think it was Randy because it was such a technically proficient shot” – Harxy, scoring, greets the skipper’s first charity boundary
“Paddy, do you drink Guinness?”
“Does Paddy O’Brien drink Guinness? Is the pope fucking catholic?”
– Jason and Randy discuss the Irish Question.
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Wandering the Tate

On a January afternoon not quite as cold as the weather augurs predicted, I stepped outside my house and ended up at Tate Modern. There wasn’t a huge amount of conscious thought behind this process; just a desperation to get out culminating in my feet taking me somewhere I hadn’t been to recently. Because, at the time of writing, going to places I have recently been to is despairing, and I have been to a lot of places.

The gallery wasn’t very busy. There were a couple of tours and lots of people of various ages wearing berets. This raised a half smile. It’s good to see the beret / art appreciation association surge deep into the first fifth of the 21st century.

I tried not to look at too much art, as taking in loads of art at once can lead to an art overload, whereby you collapse to the floor, holding your head, having been subjected to too much art in too short a space of time. This is of course different to an art attack, which is when a Dadaist jumps from behind a pillar and shouts something nonsensical at you, and you immediately die.

Above is a model of a tower block in Beirut, which has journeyed from a symbol of progress and banal / reassuring family living (delete according to mood) to burnt-out sniper’s nest to striking symbol of the lingering impacts of conflict. This was contrasted with a photography series of a London postwar housing block being demolished back in the early nineties, because we Brits don’t need the excuse of a war to destroy our social fabric.

Already pretty overwhelmed by ART, I looked at some portraits of noughties Moscow subway workers and eighties East German factory workers. These were in a room about WORKERS. I think there was a kernel of an implied point about the dignity and heroism of normal jobs, the jobs we artists must document but would never possibly do, darling, but it was possible this sentence qualifies as my being cynical. Some of the portraits were good.

I escalated up an escalator and then got lucky and found a free exhibition on magic realism, which brilliantly presented Germany’s national psychodrama between the wars. So: lots of lurid Weimar antics, with suicide, fever dreams, impending doom and repressed sexuality never far from the surface. Dreams and nightmares on canvas, portentous but never pretentious. Well, maybe slightly pretentious. And then a drawing by Lea Grundig, a German Jewish woman, completed in 1943 after she had fled the country for Palestine. You don’t have to be a sophisticated beret-wearer to appreciate the horrors contained within.

After this, I tried to leave the gallery but saw a wire model of the international space station in the next room, so naturally I was drawn to that. And then, I did finally leave, keeping close to the shadows, avoiding any Dadaists lurking amid the phone-clutching groups of disappointed-looking tourists.

Meet me at the statue in an hour

Had a jam session with Russell tonight. Vinny and Dave couldn’t make it, so it was back to being a duo.

Russell believes in travelling light, so only brought a melodica and a small keyboard with him in his backpack.

Probably the highlight of the evening was our attempt at Piazza, New York Catcher by Belle and Sebastian. On record it’s very spartan in an occasionally over produced album. Our approach was “what if we add loads of melodica solos”.

Shoplifters review: Kore-Eda’s heartbreaking film of belonging and surviving

A child falling from a concrete walkway; the oranges he was carrying rolling away on the road below.

A bunch of exhausted construction workers bitch and moan in the minivan on the way to the site.

A local fixer, pressurising a granny to sell up her house for development, accepts tea and denies the primary reason for his visit.

Two laundry workers are told one of them has to be laid off, and that they have to decide between them who that should be.

Some films you forget even as you’re watching them, but others linger and merge with the real. I still find myself thinking and worrying about the characters in Shoplifters, a sensitive and stark portrayal of Tokyo’s underbelly, even though they are, well, just characters.

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Palme d’Or winning drama is about an unusual family in a country not known for its tolerance for unusual families. Baldly, they’re crooks: Osamu, the head of the clan and labourer-thief; his partner, Noboyo, laundry worker-thief; scammer-granny and pachinko addict Hatsue, played impishly by Kirin Kiki in her last performance.

Then there’s Aki, peep-show “hostess” and runaway, and Shota, Artful Dodger to Osamu’s Fagin. They all live in a ramshackle old house in Tokyo, bringing in money by various means to supplement granny’s pension and guilt-tripping visits to her late second husband’s family.

Into this mix comes Juri, a little girl from an abusive home who Osamu takes in on a post-shoplifting whim.

Watching this film, as it gradually teased out its characters’ secrets, joys and shared desperation, was a gently stressful experience. It was clear their world was going to come crashing down at any moment, that the hypocrisies of wider society would demand retribution for their tiny crimes.

But I got to see them enjoying fireworks from the roof as a family; Noboyo and Osamu enjoying cold noodles and, later, a post-coitial cigarette in a moment of unusual summer peace; Naboyo and Juri sharing laughs and a bath together; family bonding and puberty lessons on a trip to the beach, and of course, lots of preparing and eating various things stolen from local supermarkets.

In the end it is Shota, who resents the arrival of Jiru and vaguely suspects the life he is leading isn’t quite how things should be, sparks the incident that leads to the breakdown of the family and consequences to rain down on our collection of flawed but struggling humans.

I say struggling in the sense, also that they are trying. This film shows us the side of Japanese society that doesn’t often make it to film: how the poor get by in a country where everyone claims to be middle class; how private property and familial belonging are concepts you subvert at your peril; and most crucially of all, how a few hundred yen croquettes can make all the difference on a cold winter’s day.

Mulling over Mill Hill

Today’s main lesson is that Mill Hill is a real place, not just a trap disguised as an unlikely branch of the northern line.

Mill Hill Broadway station is one of the least beautiful in London. Its entrance is beneath the M1 motorway, whereas the similarly grim Hendon station sits alongside it.

I was in Mill Hill in order to cycle through the rain to Arch North, for some afternoon bouldering and the promise of dim sum down the old Watling Road.

Docklands museum of how awful docklands is

My feet and the robot train from the future took me to the museum of London docklands today. The museum is housed in one of the few remaining 18th century warehouses, which would once have been filled with rum and sugar from the West Indies, as this is West India Quay and it was build on the proceeds of brutality and oppression.

My favourite thing about the museum was how it captured the resistance to the 1980s redevelopment of the site into the Shanghai-on-Thames hellhole we see today. How, via the London Docklands Development Council, the local community, despite a valiant fight, were marginalised into eventual non-existence.

And as an eighties protest song went…

You sell the land from under us

til the east becomes the west

And you become the islanders

And we the dispossessed

You talked about a wind of change

But we just felt the shiver

Can’t afford the price your asking

For a view of the river

Strange Powers

I am dicking around with garage band so here’s a Magnetic Fields cover.

This song brings back many memories. Of Coney Island in spring, of singing in a living room in Stoke Newington.

Well. Two memories, at least.

The images on the video are half of Stockport in 1972 and half of Derby and Skegness in 2018. The Stockport images are from Ian Nairn’s Across Britain. He approved of Stockport, and I must confess it looks rather space age mashed with Victoriana, that railway viaduct framing things nicely and the precinct dominated by that glorious escalator to the stars.

Skegness confidential

I was in Skegness alone for half an hour. It was early evening; the wind was up and the shops were closing. No-one was checking in at the Quorn hotel, and the last lady in Wilko’s had nearly finished her stock check.

The chip shops of chip shop alley were closed for the season. Pool was being played in the liberal club, and the mobility scooters were lined up outside the only open slot machine arcade on the parade.

The cinema had plasma screens on its outdated wall playing endless trailers to the deserted streets.

Flirtz lap dancing club is closed. Jive Bunny’s cafe is closed. Mad Harry’s is closed. Spalls of Skegness is closed. Peoples First Mobility is closed.

KFC is open.

Dogs in the North Sea

A calmer day today.

I managed to get the dogs to Chapel beach in the daytime for a change.

On the way I was repeatedly reminded that Hobo, the smaller dog, loves squeezing turds out through his arsehole. He unfurls huge stinkers that seem completely out of proportion to his tiny body.

Underneath that underbite and ratty fur, that torso must consist, at any time, of approximately 75% liquid excrement.

I was able to walk pretty far out into the sun-dazzled sands, following the impromptu channels of water that form through the soft sand at every low tide.

Occasionally these rivers would become too wide for me to cross in my walking shoes, and Ditto, bounding ahead, would occasionally bark at me for turning back and keeping my feet dry.

Ditto is a gorgeous and very affectionate old golden retriever, and I cherish each and every opportunity I get to lollop around with him.

And Hobo, of course. The little shitter.

Later on, at sunset, I was able to get out of the house with Kate and her baby. We walked along a country lane, looked at some cows, talked about veganism, and met a Black [Sabbath] Labrador called Ozzy. “He’s a rescue dog. His last owner knocked him about a bit,” the walker explained.

We then headed back down the lane, setting sun to our right and the rising moon making its entrance to the left, as though both were being operated by some kind of gigantic clockwork mobile for the baby’s amusement. But she was too busy chewing on her fingers and, as we turned back to the main road, dreaming of unknowable things.

The Daleks of Christmas

Hello from Chapel St Leonards. I am lying down on a sofa and eating crisps.

An hour ago, I co-recorded an episode of the Ace Doctor Who Podcast in a car on the driveway while drinking a mug of tea. By the wonders of technology I could join my friend despite his lurking many miles away in a Surbiton attic. I didn’t want to wake my friend’s baby, so I listened to the rain on the roof while ranting into a phone about how this week’s episode suggests it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.

It was a slightly surreal day of being in a car – if you’ve never tried it, it’s like being on a bike, only you have less time to take it all in – watching the flat landscape of Lincolnshire gradually giving way to the rolling landscape of north Nottinghamshire. We passed a lot of signs for villages named by the Danes or the Vikings. Sloothby. Orby. Candlesby.

Claxby Pluckacre, meanwhile, is a small hamlet masquerading as a PG Wodehouse character who pines after a lady deemed to be below his station.

Finally, in a house drowning in unseasonal Christmas tat, and with a tv permanently tuned to a channel playing festive films, I met a wood burning stove masquerading as a Dalek from planet Skaro.