Saturday, February 25, 2006

why is your face on your head?

That is another one of Anna’s questions, that she shouted it out from her bed at 8:30pm: I guess like a facilitator at a meeting she is asking a thought provoking question to stimulate discussion. I didn’t respond at the time, but having had time to think about it I would say that having the face on your head (rather than say, your lower back) shortens the communication lines between your brain and the rest of the universe.

Later on I popped upstairs and she was still awake. She said ‘daddy I can’t get to sleep because my dreams are too noisy’.

I’ve been reading Uncle Lubin with Andrew. I used to love that book when I was about 10. What a cool guy Uncle Lubin is. He always finds a way out of things. A huge long serpent is about to eat him, but he remembers that serpents can't resist music, so he plays his concertina for hours and hours and the serpent just gets caught up in knots and dies. Lubin's only real mistake is at the start of the book when he falls asleep looking after his nephew Peter and the wicked bag bird snatches Peter away in his beak. At the time of writing Uncle L still hasn’t managed to get Peter back, but he is working on it.

Here is a link to a guy has scanned onto his website lots of Heath Robinson’s illustrations for Uncle Lubin

Andrew is really looking forward to going to the test match (England v Sri Lanka) with me and my mate Phil on May 11. He asked me if I could get a bit of card and draw a 6 on it He said ‘I will hold it up if it is a six, but if I catch it then I’ll give it to you and you can hold it up’ Visions of Freddie Flintoff hitting a massive six into the grandstand and Andrew calmly passing me his little cardboard number 6 before pouching the ball in both hands.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

My other religion is the right one

I saw this graffiti on the river facing wall of the Tate Modern last week.

The sentiment really resonates with me. I remember attending a superb parenting course (, run by local health visitors. The course had a session on spirituality and parenting. At the end I asked the course leader whether she thought it was a good idea for us as parents to introduce our children to religion and she said 'yes, and to as many religions as you can'.

Religions shouldn't have to prove themselves to be true. To me it is enough if their teachings help those who come into contact with them to express and explore their feelings at being alive at a particular point within the vastness of space and time on a planet and in a universe that are both so uniquely hospitable to us.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

No wonder I couldn’t find it

Have you ever lost a boiled egg?

For the first time in my life that happened to me on Monday morning. I got up early, put the egg on to boil, and plugged in the laptop to write a blog post. I started to type about how the people that came to my training course last Friday walked over the Thames with me at lunchtime to visit the Tate Modern.

Once the egg had boiled I drained the water out, took the laptop to the table and ate a bowl of muesli. When I’d finished the muesli I went to get my boiled egg, but couldn’t find it. It wasn’t in the pan, or in the sink. I hadn’t put it back in the fridge, nor had I chucked it in the bin.

I made Tania a cup of tea, warned her about the free-ranging boiled egg and went to work. The absence of egg didn’t affect me too much, our very hospitable clients at the bank gave me a nice croissant to have with a cup of tea.

I got a text from Tania saying ‘it was in the kettle!’

Courtney Pine

Saw Courtney Pine at the Jazz Café with my dad on Saturday (I mean I went with my dad, it didn’t look like Courtney needed the help of a fellow saxophonist)

Piney was great. After an hour and a half he said to us ‘’well, our time is up now, and I guess your busy, you’ve got things to do and all that….. shame cos me and the band are just getting warmed up’’

Then when the audience made some noise he said ‘’I want you to sing along with this next one: we will do a three part harmony, yesterday they managed something special but you’re gonna do better cos you’ve got the Saturday night Camden Town Jazz café vibe, yeah?’’

So he pointed his sax at different parts of the audience, played a riff and got them to sing it back to him. And he liked our part of the audience the best cos we made the most noise at the beginning, so when another part of the audience didn’t come up to scratch he said to them ‘watch how my people can do this’ and turned back to us to do the riff. When we’d got it right he just left us to repeat it over and over again while he was off playing something else entirely.

I found it inspiring that someone at the top of his fame put so much effort, warmth and fun into his performance, into involving the audience in it, and into creating a memorable evening.

I remember seeing Tommy Smith play the sax at the Glasgow Jazz festival. He was quieter than Courtney. He played old standards, hackneyed tunes you’d heard millions of times before, with a real care and depth of heart that made them sound suddenly really touching and profound. I thought what dedication he must have to his instrument and int his art to play it that well.

My dream would be to let the passion, freedom and enjoyment shown by Pine, and the care and dedication shown by Smith , show up in my work too.

On the train back home Dad told me that the gig he played a couple of weeks ago was at The Greyhorse in Kingston: I was really impressed: they have some semi-decent bands on there.

Daddy, why do we have to protect our eyeballs when we are asleep?

Anna has just called down from her bedroom to ask me that. Funny how she comes up with these great questions when she is lying in bed trying to get to sleep.

At this time on Friday she shouted ‘mummy, why can’t you see your head?’.

Later that night she asked ‘why can you only dream when you are asleep?

Friday, February 03, 2006

February 2: National flapjack day

TFPL celebrated National Flapjack Day on Thursday, and the competion for the 'flapjack of the year' award was the closest fought many of us could remember.

The competion had everything:
- skulduggery (Carmel tipped a tub of marks and spencers flap's into a tupperware pot and expected us to believe she'd cooked it)
- heroism (Nicky and her mum drove to Beddington Asda at 1am to buy another pot of syrup after their first batch of flapjacks had charred in the oven)
- international rivalry (Belinda had told us that Anzac biscuits were better than flapjacks, and was bitterly disappointed at only getting 2 votes).
- despair (Nicky's late night vigil had looked like paying off until a late flurry of votes tore victory from her grasp)
-triumph (Clare's bold decision to make an exotic ginger and chocolate flapjack was rewarded when the last vote, from Sheetal, handed her victory by one vote)

Well done Clare!