Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Ten Years on................

Today marks ten years since the day that Jackie and I closed the deal on Pippin and became boaters.

Ten years.......


Well, we're okay.....

The eponymous widebeam has been blacked three times, had a new gearbox, ten engine services, and been treated to more solar panels, a wind turbine and lately, a new energy efficient washing machine that means we can do a load of laundry entirely off the solar bank without using the mahoosive generator in the bows (silent since March..... I wonder if it still works....)

We've made some wonderful friends and had some great times.

We've seen people come and go on the river, and waved farewell with sadness to most and given the extended middle digit to only one or two.

In short, it has been a blast.

And it's far from over yet!

If you've stayed with this nonsense throughout, especially the long silences which meant only that I was rather busy or just didn't feel I had much of interest to say, then thank you.

Here's to the next ten years!


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Ash Wednesday

I went into Soho today to attend the Ash Wednesday service at St Anne's church.

As I get older, I feel more inclined to mark Lent and try to keep it.

Jackie and I did Dry January successfully (okay, one minor slip on the 27th when drink may have been taken after we did Under Milk Wood...), so I'm packing in the booze again for Lent.

I think, though, it is equally important to take something on for Lent, too.

I am going to try to have at least one Quiet Day a week.

By this, I mean a whole day without talking.

Even to myself.

"Yeah, right", I hear you say.....

Well it's got to be worth a try..........

Also, after the service one of my friends there told me I had been name-checked on Radio Four by no less a personage than Rev. Clare Herbert, who was at one time Rector of St Anne's. If you want to have a listen, click the link to Radio 4's website.


Click on Tuesday 28th February then scroll down to 09:30 "One to One" 'Lucy Mangan on Responsibility'.

Clare comes across really well. Not a surprise: she's a great person.

After the service, I popped over to The French House to meet my chum Martin Cort for a catch-up. Dottie Phillips was also in attendance, so we chatted around a few ideas for what The French House Players might do next while enjoying a spot of lunch.

It was lovely to see old friends and colleagues from my days of working in the pub too: Annabel, Lesley and Annie were all in evidence, as was May, who I never worked with but remember keeping an eye on one lunchtime when her actor Dad came into town for a casting and needed a 'sitter' (She was probably about eight at the time...... now in her twenties......... :-)

Annabel too has decided to give up the drink for Lent. Though she hadn't realised Lent lasted until mid-April when she said she'd do it, she's gamely going to carry on!

The journey home was tricky: all trains were stopping at Cambridge and going no further. Thankfully, our neighbour Rhoda very kindly came out through some very heavy traffic to pick me up and bring me home.

Apparently, a poor benighted soul had ended their life in front of a train at Waterbeach station earlier in the day.

At time of writing no further details are available.

My heart goes out to the person, to their family, and to all the poor people who witnessed it.

Such a sadness.

And such a waste.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Trump and trumpery: the antidote.........

I have been watching aghast as events have unfolded over the last week: the inauguration, that speech, the reaction to it, the massive protest marches in the U.S.A, and the reaction to that: the internet trolling , the ignorance, the vacuity, the vituperation and the spite........

It has left me feeling profoundly depressed.

If, like me, you are sickened to your heart with the whole shambolic circus, and the sheer viciousness displayed by all sides in it, then please click on the link below.

It may not be quite the antidote you had in  mind, but roll with it........

It works for me..........


Those Quakers are definitely on to something..........

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Under Milk Wood

As promised, here is the cast list. To get there: nearest tubes are Piccadilly, Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Road. By bus, the 38 and the 19 both stop at Chinatown, directly opposite the bottom of Dean Street. St Anne's Church is at the Shaftesbury Avenue end of Dean Street.



The French House Players with a rehearsed reading of a compilation from

by Dylan Thomas

STRUAN ROGER as the Narrator










Directed by MARTIN CORT

7.30pm Friday 27th January 2017

Thursday, 12 January 2017

The French House and other stories

My favourite pub featured in the BBC News website magazine pages recently.

Here's a link:


It's the seventh picture down, so scroll down for a look.

I was sat on the fourth stool in from the left last Sunday lunchtime with actress Dorothea Phillips to my left, then Terry, our sound man and Martin Cort our director.

We were occupying the 'Sandy Fawkes Corner' of the bar as we were having a "Production Meeting"..........

Well, we had just had a look at the Community Hall of St Anne's Church Soho to sort out the practicalities of The French House Players rehearsed reading of Dylan Thomas's "Under Milk Wood".

This will take place at 7.30 p.m. on Friday 27th January, running time is about 75 minutes.

Tickets will be available on the door, £10 each (£5concs), all proceeds to St Anne's Church.

I'll give you a full cast list nearer the time, but expect the likes of Struan Roger, Tim Woodward, the indefatigable Dorothea Phillips (she was in one of the original productions in the '50's....), Martin Cort, Lesley Lewis, and me.....

It should be fun!

Come along if you can!

Monday, 9 January 2017

Now here's a thing........

I have been keeping an eye on the stats page of this blog.

It's not vanity, just interest, as I'm sure the majority of visitors to this blog are not even remotely interested in the any of the content.

They are more likely attempting to strip-mine it for data that can be used for nefarious purposes: the use of spam-bots and the attempted planting of malware or links to pornographic sites springs immediately to mind.......

Perhaps this is just a feature of the modern internet and I should not concern myself too nearly with it.

However, a recent surge in the number of visits from Russia, Poland and the Ukraine has got me thinking.


This week, 251 visits to 'The Last Post' alone, 95 from Russia and 92 from Ukraine.

In the last month, a total of 1859 visits from Russia, 319 from Poland and 139 from Ukraine.

Contrast this with 259 from the United Kingdom and 167 from the United States........

I certainly seem popular in the former Eastern Bloc........

And this is not a new phenomenon.

At the risk of sounding like I'm suffering from a good old-fashioned dose of Cold War Paranoia, I find this disturbing.

Is it just me?

Are there really that many Olegs and Olgas out there surfing the net in search of some vaguely boat-related light entertainment?

Or is something more sinister afoot?

Perhaps someone at GCHQ in Cheltenham could nip over to the Nissen hut that houses the Boaters' Blogs Monitoring Service this lunchtime and ask Neville to put his corned beef sandwich down, stop playing Freecell for a minute, and find out what the heck is going on?

Meanwhile, here's a few search key words to tickle the interest of our friends in the East.



Kleptocratic government.

Suppression of dissent.


Pussy Riot.

And for good measure, here's some about his New Best Friend:




Presidential Inauguration.

Nuclear missile launch codes.

Private Fraser/Dad's Army/"We're all doomed."

That little lot should get them going.....

If this post now roars past the '500 visits' mark by Tuesday teatime, and more than 75% of those are from the former Soviet bloc, then I'll know I'm on to something.

What to do about it, other than dig a hole, get in it , then pull the hole in after me, I'm not entirely sure........

In the meantime, keep smiling, everyone.


I'm off to watch "A Beautiful Mind" again........

Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Last Post

Well, not the last ever post........

Just the last post of 2016......

And as this has been a year of  great sadness at much passing, let the title stand!

I heard The Last Post played on the bugle at St Anne's Church in Soho on Remembrance Sunday in November this year.

And with the help of Father Simon, and my friends from The French House Players (a group of professional actors who drink in that very fine establishment just across Dean Street from the church and who gather to perform rehearsed readings for charitable causes....), we read the entire list of names on the Parish War Memorial out loud just before the Two Minutes Silence.

This was the first time this has been done in living memory.

It seemed to me very apt in the centenary year of the carnage and slaughter on the Somme that this should be so.

The desperately sad, poignant and elegaic sound of the bugle has long since died away.

It seems to me important that, as the embers of the old year burn down, all those we left behind us in 2016 should also be commemorated.

And with their own, less martial, music...........

"Comes now the Spring thou shalt not see,


We have sore miss of thee......."


So what to play for them?

We'll start with this:


Now that, in my humble opinion , is truly beautiful.

What soul would not wish to waft heavenward accompanied by such as that?


I can see Lemmy Kilmister, Rick Parfitt, Glenn Frey and quite a few other rock and rollers finding it a little less than sufficient unto the day......

So this is for them:


But this one is for Carrie Fisher: the saddest, for me, of all the losses we have sustained in this fell, fell year..........


I would say "Goodnight, Sweet Princess," but I know you hated that soubriquet.......

But "May flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest" anyway.........

And as you were both made crazy by a talent so bright it burned you, I'll let Miss Shepherd have the final word......