Thursday, 14 December 2017

In which Victor and I give up entirely and go to the pub.............

This morning, I received an unsolicited text message from EE inviting me to 'Gift Like a Boss' this Christmas.

Does anybody out there have any idea what this means?

There was a day when I could 'Punch like a South Bound Freight Train'.....

It's been a long while, but this makes me feel like getting back into training......

'Gift Like a Boss' indeed..........

Good Grief, children! 

This is the language of Shakespeare, Milton, Donne, Coleridge, Maugham, Eliot, Dickens, Fforde, insert the name of your favourite author and wordsmith here that you are traducing with your spine-wrenchingly awful misconstructions.

So what to say to the bunch of hopelessly misguided suits who came up with this?

I am starting an on-line campaign:

It's called "No. Stop it. Stop it Now. No, Really, Before I Lose My Temper ......."

We then add what we wish to say to the authors of this abomination, and sign.

I will open the batting thus:

.... "you lame brained excuses for a bunch of numpty cretins." John Witts.

(Come on, I'm just warming up. I'm sure you can do much better.........)

Please send your submissions to this blog on the usual electronic postcard.

Meanwhile, Victor and I will be muttering into our Milk Stout in the Saloon Bar........

Merry Christmas everyone........

Thursday, 30 November 2017

In which I have a Victor Meldrew moment......

"I don't believe it.


Yes, dear old Victor's catchphrase could not be more apt than it is today.

It actually wearies me to hear the news that the current incumbent of The White House has re-tweeted vile racist nonsense from a bunch of pathetic non-entities based in the United Kingdom.

Also, that Garrison Keillor, American  radio broadcaster and author of 'Lake Woebegone Days' has just been fired from his job as a result of an accusation of improper behaviour.

Good Grief.

I love his work: if you haven't read his book, then get a copy quick before they are all burned.

I don't know.

Look, if he did something or said something or suggested something that would not have made his mother proud at some point in his seventy five years, then he should say sorry and make amends.

But don't let the accusation (at time of writing not substantiated) prevent you from reading his work.

It's a great primer for the sublime prose of Kent Haruf, an author who is a fairly recent addition to Pippin's library.

Start with 'Plainsong'.

For many years, academia has been in search of The Great American Novel.

For my money, this is it.

'Benediction' is also brilliant.

I haven't read 'Our Souls at Night' yet, though.

I am given to understand it is not about the late shift at the local hospital's colonoscopy clinic, no matter what the British English pronunciation of the title may lead you to believe.......

It is a shame Mr Haruf is no longer with us.

He could have continued his superb ouvre with a book entitled "Our Souls at The White House"........

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

"I was glad......

.....when they said unto me, let us go to the house of the Lord this day"

That's the introit commonly used in the Anglican mass and also a traditional anthem at the Coronation of a new King or Queen.

The most famous setting is by Sir Hubert Parry for King Edward VII's Coronation in 1902.

I think it's rather lovely........

 And today, I am glad.

Yes, the North Koreans have just launched another ballistic missile....

Yes, Messrs Barnier and Juncker are currently working out how to most royally stuff the U.K. as it slides, rudderless, toward a Brexit negotiated by poltroons on behalf of non-entities.

Yes the White House is, well, ...............fill it in for yourself.......

And yet "I am Glad".

Not, of course, because of any of that bollocks................

Goes without saying, really.


"I Am Glad" because a little boy I met once in 1991 (when he came round the Museum of the Moving Image with his older brother, and I had, as one of the actor guides, in Odeon Commissionaire character, to show them out of the 'quick' exit door from The Odeon exhibit to the shop because they were late for tea with their Mum), has just got engaged.

I am very glad about this.

I am also very glad his fiancee is an American.

(I fell in love with one myself back in the early eighties.... it was not to be...)

I am also very glad she is of mixed race.

And I am very glad and that she has been married once before, and that she and he will be allowed to marry in church.

His family has been, in the past, rather hide-bound by tradition, you see......

His Great great Uncle was prohibited by the family from marrying an American divorcee.

His Great Aunt was not allowed to marry a divorcee, even though he was a decorated war hero, and was very close to his Great Aunt's father.......

And they weren't terribly nice to his Mum when she and his Dad got divorced.

And he was devastated when she got killed in a car crash..........

What with that and military service in Afghanistan, the lad has been through the wringer.

But his girl seems very nice indeed, and I wish them both good luck, long life and much happiness.

Their good news has made me glad.

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........