Monday, November 11

Maturity Jump

Madeleine and I on our Sunday walk

"This game is a maturity jump for us."
--Cam Newton, QB of the Panthers

I like this idea, a 'maturity jump', which Cam Newton applies to the Carolina Panthers following their 10-9 W over the SF 49ers.  A single outcome, Cam suggests, can raise one's game for the remainder of a season, be it football or life and esp, at this hour, the teenage years.

And what jumps we have seen. This year sees the kids mostly self-directed quietly losing the need for an adult presence when Sonnet and I out. Doing their homework (usually) without badgering. Getting themselves to school and back with two and often three bags of kit and maybe a trumpet.  Establishing their own standards of performance.

But the big shifts still ahead yet.  Dating (however they do it now) around the corner. GCSE exams approaching. And their brains and bodies grow.  Eitan is a bean-pole, Madeleine's feet as big as mine. How amazing to be along for this ride.

Madeleine: "Aiden doesn't care what other people think." [Dad's note: Aiden is Madeleine's pal at school. He is from NY and also into drama and acting]
Madeleine: "That's why I like him."
Me: "Yep."

Thursday, November 7


I swim laps in the pool where Mark Spitz won 7 Golds

We've all been there and it happens to everybody - usually in private but sometimes it can spill over into a public place like a New York street corner or some restaurant. Tears, sobbing and maybe screaming.  It's the mid-20s break-up and today the couple behind me, row 8, went for it (He: "I made two vows to myself. I would break up with you on December 12. Or let you go your own way." She: "But why December 12? Can't we at least wait until after Christmas?" which actually seems like a pretty reasonable request to me).

Unfortunately this goes on for the entire flight and, in the end, nobody gets anywhere though I do learn the girl attracted to another guy while still loving 8E and he finds their relationship "inescapably physical". I think they deserve each other. As the world turns.

In Munich despite a missed flight and a day of meetings tomorrow.

Chelsea Winner

Demba Ba from The Mirror

Justin and I do our usual Burger-Chelsea match, a favorite thing, and the blues in action against Schahlke, which I understand is somewhere in Germany.  The stands are out for blood - Germany! - and get satisfaction on the first goal which sees Samuel Eto's boot finding the keeper's goal kick, which reverses into the box. Goal! Chelsea goes on to win 3-nil following Eto again and the wonderfully named Demba Ba's perfect strike.  Us fans go home satisfied. I have yet to lose at Stamford Bridge.

Justin and I discuss, briefly, whether one should use a straw.

"The Italian economy is again in disarray but it seems to me the strength of Italian production still leans on expert handicraft, high quality leathers."
--Sonnet in the Evening Standard

Wednesday, November 6


Leon's photo of Miranda Kerr from 2003 before she was known by the entire planet. He tells me Miranda agreed to do nudes but her boyfriend put the kabol on that one.

Leon's photo chosen by British 125 magazine in their ten year retrospective of best photos.

Brown Eyes

Laurance visits London and over for dinner: he is working on a number of energy related investments pouncing on the shale gas opportunity. He is all over it, making his fortune.

Sonnet meets with 120 members of the press to prime them for the Italians and, though anxious, she is a cool cucumber in new dress and high heels, off too the Bulgaria in Knightsbridge.  The sun barely up.  She still has time to make Eitan breakfast and ensure Madeleine to school on time.

Rusty: "Woof woof woof."

Tuesday, November 5

Arthur - Stage Next

Arthur and I re connect at Waterloo Station, Platform 17, to walk across London via Euston Station, the Strand, Fleet Street then the City and Shoreditch and finally Bethnal Green, where we catch a train to Richmond. On the way we find a pub.

Arthur, age 59, retired this year following 35 years at TRW and then Northrop Grumman, which acquired TRW, a satellites business, where Arthur one of the lead engineers. He informs me a big challenge, working on a satellite, is the "realisation uncertainty" or knowing what is actually being built. This not so obvious when there are 100s of PhD technicians modifying and tinkering a highly complex objet

Arthur is now working through his reading list and working on a house in Los Angeles while he retains his penthouse flat in London NW1.  Over dinner we discuss Plato's reading of Socrates which became, many believe, the foundation of the Bible.

Meanwhile, a badger-cull aiming to kill 70% of the countryside badgers kills only 65% or 940 badgers. This is the lead BBC story, 11AM.

Tax admin: "Do you know what nationality you are?"
Me: "I'm British."
Tax admin: "That's OK, absolutely fine."
Me: "Well thank you."

“Run with the painters. I always did."
--Kurt Vonnegut

Monday, November 4

Kamila Checks In

Girls just want to have fun

Our dear Kamila finds herself on a "working holiday" in Skopelos, Greece, between university classes.

Sonnet returns from Smith on the over-night and we are thrilled to have her back in the house.

Eitan and I watch a BBC documentary on the making of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" and then listen to the album on spotify.  The four chords on "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" about the late Syd Barrett are crazy good.

Sunday, November 3

Duppas Disaster

The Sheen Lions in cup action today against the Wallington Wanderers whose lovely pitch on Duppas Hill otherwise surrounded by Croydon.  This was the cup Elm Grove won last year.  Today's match promising as our side misses a couple of sure goals then puts one in on a perfect strike from Jack. The Lions go up further, 3-1, in the second half and us dads on the sideline now thinking about the afternoon chores. At least I am. But calamity : three unanswered goals by the Wanderers.  Eitan's last minute equaliser sends us to over-time, 2X ten minutes. Bam! they're up 5-4 and pow! 5-5 tie, no time left.  And so the dreaded penalty kicks, which we lose on the seventh, and last, PK.  Heartbreak hill.

Since Sonnet away and we have nothing in the house to eat I tell Eitan: Make dinner. He prepares a rice beef sauce concoction (and listens to Eminem). Not bad, this kid

Saturday, November 2


W/ Cyrus

Eitan celebrates 13 one month post facto with the usual suspects at a football match - QPR v Darby County (our side, whichever it is, wins 2-1). He and the Sheen Lions, thanks to David, serve as the 'Guards of Honor' forming the gauntlet through which the players pass to enter the field (me to Eitan: "Don't trip").

A fun afternoon filled with pizza, junk food and friendships which may last a lifetime.

Madeleine's Miracle

Madeleine makes Sushi

Madeleine calls me upstairs in tears: "Something is wrong with Eric" [Dad's note: Eric is her 'runt' turtle] and, indeed, when she places Eric in the tank he drops like a rock.  We gently place Eric in a plastic tray while I search the Internet for 'sick turtle' and 'turtle not moving' while Madeleine sobs: "He's not dead, Dad. I know he is not dead."

One helpful website informs me that Eric may have swallowed water so I pump his little legs furiously : up, down, up, down. His neck fully extends and he can no longer hold its weight. I tell Madeleine: last rights, and she should prepare to say goodbye and consider a burial patch in the backyard. She refuses, so I place Eric by my bed as she cannot bare to be around his final hours.

Next morning he looks no better but Madeleine has faith. She force feeds him some blood worms and, I'll be damned, he starts eating.  Within the hour he has some energy and by noontime he is swimming around on his own.

Madeleine learns a valuable lesson: We will live forever.

Thursday, October 31


Trick-or-treating out of the way, the kids and I watch TV. Aneta back from the gym and Rusty snoozes on the floor (Sonnet at Smith as the keynote speaker at a conference). An evening well spent.

Trick Or Treat

Madeleine comes in from Halloween with a score, which she spreads on the carpet and we examine together. Her favourite this year: "Gummy Brains". Me: Why do you like them? Madeleine: Because they are gummy.  Fair enough.  Eitan on Richmond Hill trick 'o treating with ten teenagers. Curfew, 10PM.

Eitan: "Suffocating is the worse way to die."
Me: "Boiling in oil."
Madeleine: "So you are saying, Eitan, you would rather boil to death than suffocate?"
Me: "I'd want a bullet. One shot then I'm dead."
Eitan: "Suffocating would take two minutes."
Me: "When they boiled that guy in Shogun it was 24 hours."
Madeleine: "24 hours, Eitan."
Eitan: "It wouldn''t be worse than suffocating."
Me: "How about poking your brains out. Through your eyeballs?"
Madeleine: "At least that would be quick."
Aneta: "It time to go to swimming now."

Anu's Data

Anu (photo from web)

"90% of all the world's data created in the last two years."
--IBM, 2013

This, above all other sound bytes, makes me pause: information is available the question is how we will use it to save the planet and ourselves.

Take Anu Pathria at Correlation Ventures - he is responsible for the firm's analytical assets which include a quarterly feed from Dow Jones on every venture round in North America since 1988 or about 55,000 financings. Anu crunches this information to produce an investment score used by Correlation to make a decision - usually inside 24 hours without much further DD.

Prior to Correlation, Anu was at HNC Software where he co-developed the Falcon credit card fraud detection system currently responsible for protecting over 60% of credit card transactions in real-time and world-wide—a groundbreaking product that took HNC public. So every time your cc switched off for unusual charges you can curse Anu. I do.

How we will use Big Data is only at the beginning of our imaginations.

Wednesday, October 30

Mid Break

My Halloween costume?

Kids have another week no school which means boredom, squabbling, television.. and so it goes.

Since Eitan without his gadgets after taking his gadgets to Greece when told not to take his gadgets to Greece, he sneaks around looking for his gadgets, hidden by Sonnet in a place I know not where (Me: "Where's the God damn tv remote?").  I am informed he finds them.  Otherwise they read.

Madeleine: "Did you see our pumpkins, Dad?"
Me: "Yes. And I knew straight-away which one was yours - the smaller one with the gruesome carving"
Madeleine: "Yep."
Me: "It looks like Eitan is going to a party so it's just you and me for Halloween."
Madeleine: "I'm going with Zara and Molly."
Me: "Cool. Can I go too?"
Me: "I'm going as Rocky.  Boxing trunks, no shirt."
Madeleine: "Um Dad.. .."
Me: "Adrian! Adrian!"
Madeleine: "OK, dad, whatever."

Tuesday, October 29

Lou Reed

Nico and Lou Reed

So Lou Reed is dead, a man I never quite got nor particularly sought out.  His songs 'Walk On The Wild Side' and 'Pefect Day' cut through the clutter but I can't think of any others. People compare him to Dylan but I think, no way.  Reed's association with the over rated Andy Warhol makes him all the more suspect.  Still, his influence on New Wave and punk is behind much of the music I listen to and enjoy today. He was out there so full credit.

"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out."
--Lou Reed

Friday, October 25


We visit the Hermitage in Amsterdam which is the Amsterdam branch of the Hermitage in St Petersburg which owns an enormous collection of everything. Today's special exhibition displays Gauguin, Bonnard and Denis, French painters from the 1890s.  The Russians, of course, fascinated by Parisian culture from this epoch and the most sophisticated Russians owned apartments on the Left Bank where they would invest in the scene, taking it back to Moscow.

Me, I find an empty gallery and eagerly ask Sonnet to take photos before we are found out.

Sonnet: "Shall we go to the ballet?" (Editor's note: we walk by the Amsterdam Opera House)
Me: "Sure, I would love to go."
Sonnet to the box office attendee: "We will have two centre seats please."
Me: "What time does it start? What time does it end?"
Box office attendee: "It starts at 8:15 and ends at 11:30PM."
Me: "Um, maybe we should think about this a minute."
Sonnet to box office attendee: "We will go for a walk and think about it."
Box office attendee: "I'll be here."

Thursday, October 24


Sonnet and I in Amsterdam taking advantage of the kids final days of swimming camp. Funny how we feel five years younger.

We stroll along canals to the Van Gogh museum but it is really too nice an afternoon to be indoors so we sit at an outside cafe and people-watch. The cyclists are mad - no helmets - and it is unclear who has priority. Cars also drive too fast for the narrow roads and the sidewalks barely accommodate a single person. Oh, well - it is charming and beautiful and we enjoy the moment.

The Pigeons Of Trafalgar Square

Facing the National Gallery

Trafalgar Square once known for its 100s and 100s of pigeons that would climb on you for bird crumb purchased from vendors on the edge of the plaza. Inevitably family photos of the summer trips included laughing kids covered by the fucking birds.

In 2003 Mayor Ken Livingstone banned feeding the Trafalgar Sq pigeons and, in 2007, levied a £500 fine on the bird loving nutjobs who often brought 20 kg or more of seed, flaunting the rules.  Birds of prey were introduced in to eliminate the plague and now not a pigeon in sight. Good riddance, I say.

Wednesday, October 23

Baby Prince George Christened !

Sonnet in nature

Sonnet and I up for a morning ramble in County Surrey just outside the sleepy town of Ripley, whose pub dates to "circa" 1540 which, Sonnet points out, could mean a lot of things.

And, so, today, the Royal Baptism gets front and center. The seven godparents receive full page coverage (celebrities!), the Queen's very footsteps followed (BBC: "And now, Her Majesty the Queen, will lead a small family gathering to a separate chamber for the official photographs.. . " The Queen hobbles along) and Will and Kate looking marvellous (of course), making it all seem so damn easy. Man, I must have been inadequate when Eitan and Madeleine that age.

In other news, an infestation of venomous spiders closes a school.  Usual stuff.


Madeleine and coach Camilla

Life sure is dull without the Shakespeares. Sonnet and I sleep later, do some house work. Read. Watch TV and have breakfast in our pajamas.  So this is what it is like.