Thursday 14 August 2014


We were due to be going to see a film - The Great Beauty - on the outdoor screen at Somerset House this evening.  It's pouring with rain.  The Cat's Mother definitely won't go.  I might, but it doesn't feel that appealing.

When I used to be an 'international business man', I used to try and organise my meetings for a Monday or a Friday.  That way I could fly in and enjoy the weekend in a beautiful city.  One of those cities was's a glorious place, and I loved exploring it.  I came across an art exhibition, and for the first time I was 'moved' by the art I saw.  It was a remarkable exhibition by Anish Kapoor.  I'd never heard of him before, but instantly became a devotee, and have been to see many more of his exhibitions since.  In fact one of the first outings that The Cat's Mother, The Cat, The Boy and I went to was one of his; it was may be a little unfortunate that the first exhibit had more than a passing resemblance to a vagina.   He has risen to international prominence, and is considered one of Britain's greatest living sculptors...his works are far out of my reach, but I was very, very delighted by a 50th birthday present from The Cat's Mother - a pair of Anish Kapoor designed cufflinks.  Anyway, the point of this is not so much about Anish Kapoor, but how unexpected discoveries can bring a lifetime of joy.

So to clarify this waffle.  For years I used to get to Bermondsey (where my office is) early, buy a newspaper and read it whilst I drank a cappuccino in a pub that opened for breakfast.  Across from where I sat, the directors of Kurt Geiger would have their daily management meeting, which I would occasionally listen in to (well I am nosy).  Alas, they never thought to offer me a shoe discount.  One day the background music caught my attention, and I asked what it was.   A group called Easystar All Stars.  It was a reggae version of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.  I couldn't buy it quickly enough, and since then it is always near the top of my pile of music to listen fact I've heard it many more times than the original.  They've also done dub versions of Radiohead, The Beatles, and Michael Jackson...all great albums.  Last night we got the chance to see them at he Jazz Club in Camden.  They were sublime....I grinned from start to finish I enjoyed it so much.  The icing on the cake was that the exit was right past out table on the balcony above the stage, so I could thank them for their music.  They're on tour, and even if you're not a reggae fan, I'd still recommend you get to see them for a great night of music that will invigorate you.

Monday 11 August 2014


You've probably seen in the newspapers the Poppy installation at the Tower of London to commemorate the 100th 'anniversary' of the start of The Great War.  It's called Bloodswept lands and Seas of Red and will consist of 886,246 ceramic poppies created by the artist Paul Cummins.  Whilst the installation was officially announced a couple of weeks ago teams of volunteers have been planting poppies at a daily rate of about 10,000 so that the total can be reached by 11th November.  In fact they are doing more than just planting them, they've been creating them.  The petals are made in a workshop in Derby and then shipped in batches of 4000 to the site.  Volunteers then work in the Tower moat with steel stalks either 45cm, 75cm, or 100cm. The process is a production line:  struggle to put a small rubber washer on the stalk, then struggle to put a big rubber washer on, then struggle to put a small rubber spacer on before finally struggling to put on a big rubber bung.  Make several before carrying them over to their designated position, remove the large rubber bung, put on a ceramic poppy and plant.  Re-attach the large rubber bung, and repeat.  The work is being done in four-hour shifts come rain or shine. When it's dry you need to hammer in the stalk.  When its wet you get cold and wet but the stalks go in a lot easier.  You will have guessed that I have done one shift and have volunteered for more (it's so 'popular' that I'm not sure I will be needed again).  I had a lovely Sunday morning doing this.  The other volunteers were an absolute joy to work with.  It does make you think and reflect on why you are there...and when we thought we might start moaning about being so wet this weekend, we all realised that the soldiers we are commemorating had to live and die in the most appalling conditions for four long years.

So I would very, very strongly recommend you go and see this.  There is a beauty to it, but somehow it manages to capture the tragedy of a war that was supposed to end all wars in a very emotional way.  I'm sure it will move you.