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Nov. 14th, 2017

The Spy Who Loved Me


I'm having a good year for Bond on the big screen. Last night was Octopussy at the Institute of Light in east London, as part of the newly-formed SUPAKINO's 'Turbans Seen On Screen' season.

Before the film, there was a short, funny talk by Del Singh, who explained how he came to be hired by Eon Productions to tie villain Gobinda's turban for him. Then we were treated to a surprise Skype call with Gobinda himself, actor Kabir Bedi, in India (where it was gone midnight).

I invited JM Horse, Bastett and Ruxley to join me, which they did, blissfully unaware that I planned to spend the entire evening referring to them as my 'Octoposse'. I also got to meet a friend from James Bond Twitter (which is a thing).

It was a lovely, fun, friendly event and I wish SUPAKINO all the best for the future. I'm sure I'll be back.

Dangerous Curves


I picked up a new scooter at the weekend.

A friend from a biking forum dropped me a line to say that his old bike (a slightly newer, lower mileage machine than mine, same model) was for sale at his local dealer, and he reckoned he could swing me a good deal on it.

The idea of owning a bike with a known pedigree appealed, the price was good, and as the old one is most likely gone forever, and I need to get to work and other places, I went for it.

Howard took me down to JS Gedge, in Sussex, on his pillion, and my forum friend came along to watch us seal the deal, bringing his Staffie cross, Diesel, with him as a bonus.

It's all happened very quickly, and I'm not taking as much delight in my new toy as I usually would, because I'm still upset about the old toy. But I expect we'll bond once I get a few miles under my belt.


Nov. 3rd, 2017



Yesterday was an all-round unimpressive day which culminated in my motorbike getting stolen from outside my karate class.

Scooter theft in London is rife; I thought I was safe with a big, ugly, awkward machine, but apparently not.

Obviously nobody died and it’s only a possession. But it was my possession and I loved it very much. I’d had it five years, done 85,000 miles (I was hoping to get 100k out of it) and ridden it all over Europe. I have a lot of emotions and memories tied up in that thing. (I woke up in the night and got unreasonably angry about the loss of my favourite pair of gloves, left in the top box, and the mints in the aeroplane tin under the seat.)

The horrible thing is that it was taken from a place where I park it, carefully out of sight of the main road, every week, and it was taken as soon as the clocks went back. So it was likely premeditated and I will never feel safe there again.

My karate instructor drove me home, one of the guys in the class works at the police vehicle pound and took my number so he can call me if it turns up, and a colleague immediately offered to lend me her moped so I can get to work. So the 99% of people who aren’t thieving bastards continue to be lovely, at least.

Oct. 30th, 2017


Friends in High Places

One of the other participants on my Bike Normandy weekend in August was an Airbus pilot, and we spent much of our off-bike time happily geeking about aviation topics.

He turned out to have a part share in a Tri-Pacer based at Shoreham Airport, and very generously offered to take me up in it at a time when dates, weather and aircraft serviceability all lined up.

That time was Saturday, a beautiful, bright, cold morning. I rode down to Shoreham and met Tim at Hangar 4 just after 11. An alarmingly short time later we were knee to knee in the tiny dual-control 1950s cockpit, going through the startup checklist.

I was allowed to sit in the left-hand seat and pretend to be the captain. This put me in charge of the parking brake and other vital equipment.

I had also been promised that I could do 'as much or as little of the flying as you want'. For the first leg I was more than happy to sit and watch the world go by, but on our homeward journey I got more adventurous, by which I mean I did some incredibly gentle turns and followed the instructions I was given.

We flew along the coast to the Isle of Wight, landed at Sandown for a sausage sandwich, then returned to base via a coffee stop at Goodwood.

I hang out at a lot of airfields, because they're convenient, friendly places for a biker to get a coffee, and I always envy the mystique surrounding the people taking off and landing. It was wonderful to be part of it for once.

Still grinning.


Oct. 27th, 2017

Dangerous Curves


Last Saturday marked ten years since my dad died. I found it unexpectedly difficult and was glad when it was over.

What I miss most is being able to tell him things. I lead a lucky life; I get to do some wonderful, fun stuff, and I'm very grateful. This year I've flown in a Dragon Rapide and been entrusted with a position of responsibility on a Bike Normandy motorcycle tour, and he would have been so pleased and proud and excited about it all.

On Monday night I watched Beyond the Sea, the X-Files episode in which a convicted murderer offers to pass Scully a message from her recently-deceased father if she'll get him off Death Row. It crossed my mind often back in late 2007, because I wanted a message, too.

Scully, of course, soon gets back to her awesome sceptical self and declines to bargain with murderers. Mulder asks her how she can bear not knowing what the message was -

SCULLY: But I do know.
SCULLY: He was my father.

Oct. 22nd, 2017



And the birds up on the wires and the telegraph poles
They can always fly away from this rain and this cold
You can hear them singing out their telegraph code
All the way down the Telegraph Road.


Oct. 2nd, 2017

Casino Royale

Trip Aces

On Saturday, I headed to the Royal Albert Hall for something pretty special: a screening of Casino Royale (2006 flavour) with live score by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.

The place was filled with happy, excited Bond fans from all over the world; I heard a group of Scandinavians in the lobby having a very animated discussion of which I understood only 'Timothy Dalton'.

An email from the venue had stated that the dress code was '007 inspired', and there were plenty of attendees in black tie, putting my SPECTRE polo shirt to shame. I saw Thunderball and A View to a Kill T-shirts, and a tiny little boy in a tux (I hope he enjoyed the torture scene).

Before the screening there was a Q&A with composer David Arnold, in which he talked about his love of Bond and his experience writing the scores for five Bond films, from Tomorrow Never Dies up to Quantum of Solace. Then it was into the action.

I didn't realise quite how much the live music would add to the experience, but it was wonderful to hear and watch. Seated in the circle, I was almost above the conductor; I could see the small screen in front of him showing the movie and electronic cues, and catch the subtle movement he made as he geared up for the swooping 'Vesper' love theme.

My favourite thing to watch, though, was one of the violinists, who was turning his head to enjoy the film every chance he got.

I also loved the gusto with which the orchestra swung into the Bond theme over the closing credits, accompanied by David Arnold on guitar.

No effort had been spared to make it a tasteful and memorable occasion. Aston Martin had even sent along a DB5, which was sitting smugly outside behind ropes. Everything was just lovely, including a custom INTERMISSION screen with the O forming part of the 007 logo.

Casino Royale in Concert

Sep. 29th, 2017

Something So Right

I Feel the Breath of a Storm

I first became aware of Girl from the North Country when I spotted the poster as I rode past the Old Vic one evening. A quick look at the website confirmed that it was indeed a musical based on the songs of Bob Dylan, so I rounded up my friend and fellow-fan Bec, and we saw it last night.

This, let us be clear, is not a feelgood musical. We paid dearly for all our jokes about "Mamma Mia! but with Dylan", I can tell you. It is, however, beautiful, intriguing and moving.

Set in a guesthouse in Duluth, Minnesota (I finally learned it's pronounced 'doo-LOOTH'), the story follows the various lost souls who live or board there through the events of Thanksgiving, 1934, with a bit of mystery and a whiff of the supernatural, in dialogue and song. And what songs, of course.

No greatest hits collection here, but a good spread of older and more recent tunes, familiar and obscure. The instrumentals were a cruel torment of oh-god-I-know-this-what-is-it?

My favourite was probably the bit where 'Hurricane' segued into 'All Along The Watchtower' and then into 'Idiot Wind'. 'I Want You' done as a tender duet broke my heart, then 'Forever Young' broke me altogether.

We had fun tying in songs with characters: a bible salesman to fit in 'Slow Train Coming', a boxer so we could have 'Hurricane'.

There were times when the plot felt a little disjointed, or as if it contained just one hard luck story too many. But the music, the music.

Here's 'Tight Connection To My Heart' as I had never heard it before:

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Sep. 18th, 2017

The Spy Who Loved Me

Nobody Does It Better

When it comes to birthdays, there are two kinds of people: those who prefer to ignore the whole ghastly affair and those who like fuss, attention and presents. Falling in the latter category, I wanted to do something special for my 40th.

I had the idea that screening a film for my friends would be fun, and the internet led me to Whirled Cinema, a cosy and quirky venue just down the road from me at Loughborough Junction.

My chosen flick was The Spy Who Loved Me, the Bond film from the year of my birth. It's a solid choice, containing all the elements the casual viewer would associate with the series and many of its finest innuendoes.

I was especially pleased that two of my friends brought their nine-year-old to experience her first Bond movie. Afterwards she commandeered my Goldeneye cap gun and went around demanding that we tell her everything we knew (which in some cases did not take long).

Roger Moore's Bond is pretty kid-friendly, though there was the occasional awkward spot:

AGENT TRIPLE X: Why don't you lie down and let me look at it?
9-YR-OLD: What's going to happen?
ME: Um...

When the film was over we had pizza from Mamma Dough and a proper posh cake made by the wife of one of my colleagues before moving on to a nearby pub.

Huge thanks to everyone who attended from points north, west, south, east, and closer to home. I was inundated with cards and presents, and didn't manage to open everything on the day, so I can only apologise to everyone who didn't get a proper thank you.


Sep. 16th, 2017

Casino Royale


40th birthday logo

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