Sunday, 31 January 2016


I went to two plays in London the other day. One was As You Like It at the National Theatre. I thought it was a really good production.

I also went to Waste, which I'm still thinking about.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Duchess Was Right

Assailed as we are with health messages of the 'bacon will kill you', 'fat is bad for you', 'fat is good for you', 'kim chee is a wonder food, 'quinoa tastes disgusting but is magnificently healthy' et cetera, et cetera kind, it was with some surprise that my husband realised quite suddenly yesterday evening that pepper is something no-one has ever warned us against.

Salt, yes; cream, certainly, (or possibly not after all, judging by very recent reports, hurray); salami, practically poison really; sausages, ditto, (well they are salami in English almost aren't they?); cream buns, horrifying lurking dangers - well, I could go on.

But pepper has never, so far as I know, been spoken of in disapproving tones by health authorities. Which is something to rejoice about - or, at the very least, breathe a sigh of relief about, while thinking of how we can join the baby belonging to the Alice in Wonderland Duchess and 'thoroughly enjoy the pepper when he [we] pleases [please]'.

And, since we are on the subject of pepper, let us not forget Peter Piper, the most well-known pepper picker of all time. He gets a  mention at the end of this very clever and funny little piece about his wife, who sells seashells, (by the seashore). It comes from episode 2 of the series now running on BBC Radio 4 of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme:

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Calling Professor Branestawm

As a non-inventor but a regular attender of parties full of Eurocrats who talk to me at great length about things I am not interested in and do not understand, I should be very grateful if somebody would invent a tiny contraption that I could place inside my ear before outings. This contraption, although minute, would contain a number of audio programmes - recordings of EL Wisty and Shelley Berman, the ramblings of Adam Buxton, old episodes of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, cheerful things of that kind. These programmes could be activated whenever a Eurocrat went on talking for more than a minute and a half - oh all right for more than two seconds; why pretend I have any patience. No one but me would be aware of what was happening. I would still nod and smile and even ask the occasional question - not that Eurocrats ever need the encouragement of a question. Simultaneously, I would be listening to more entertaining - but hidden - voices, murmuring soothingly into my ear.

As well as this wonderful device, I'd be grateful if someone else - or the same person, I'm not picky - could come up with an App that would work in a sort of periscopic manner so that, in galleries where you aren't allowed to take photographs, you could hold your telephone in the position you hold it when reading emails et cetera, but somehow the telephone's camera would, from that angle, be able to take a picture of whatever was on the wall.

Thank you in advance, dear inventors, for your wonderful ingenuity.

Warmest wishes from ZMKC

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Repetitive Televisual Syndrome

Last night on the television, a programme called (something like) DCI Banks came on.

"Ooh", I thought, "I saw that once, and I rather liked it. How exciting."

(Well, "exciting" might be pushing it, but "how mildly pleasing" is not even "mildly interesting", so I'll stick with the exaggeration).

Anyway, the programme began, and I realised that the thing that has happened to me with countless television series was happening - that is, the episode they were screening was the same one I'd seen before on more than one occasion (not that I've sat right through it more than once, I hasten to add - I do have some standards, if not very many.)

What I would like to know though is this: is it just me or  does this happen to anyone else - I mean not just with that particular episode of DCI Banks, but with all sorts of different television series; and not just police things but comedies and documentaries and other stuff as well? It does not matter where I am in the world, (as long as they have television), I will turn on a television set and the only episode of Silent Witness or I Love  Lucy or Attenborough's Africa (or the DCI Banks thing, whatever it is really called) that I am ever going to be allowed to see will swim up out of the screen's darkness, and I will think, " Not that one again," and turn the thing straight off (except the I Love Lucy one, of course).

Sometimes though I wonder if I shouldn't turn off but should instead watch each of these programmes very, very carefully. Perhaps collectively they contain an important message from the universe that I am meant to pay close attention to.

But of course that is a completely deranged way of thinking. The universe does not send signals to individuals, and certainly not through the medium of mediocre TV programmes.

Or does it?