Friday, December 29, 2006


Just watching 'The Holiday' with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz - so far so run of the mill. Watching Kate getting blown about in the Santa Anna winds made me think of Great Winds in the Movies:
1) The Sarf Lunden trees rustling in Antonioni's Blow Up (never thought about it before but blowing [up] is as important in the park as the darkroom)
2) The crazy Himilayan wind in Powell + Pressburger's Black Narcissus which drives Kathleen Byron over the edge

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Birthday Bonanza - Today's Happiness Experiment entry

N's incredibly self-assured and sociable behaviour at Danny's birthday dinner at a strange restaurant in an equestrian centre in Mill Hill East, with regal horses lurking in the shadows

Trampolining with D's friends for his 7th birthday at the Somers Town Community Sports Centre, session lead - by happy coincidence - by Stephen Wagland, son of our old downstairs neighbours at 19 Carleton Road, Reg and Pat Wagland, nephew of good old Eddie - D said "it's my best birthday ever"

Sorting out my records - whilst listening to treasures from the collection including Atmosphere (Joy Division) and Sexual Healing (Marvin Gaye)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Happiness Experiment entries

NR in a rather unfortunate cycle of diabetes and alzheimers - every time she took a Quality Street chocolate she was convinced it was her first - still, she was happy, so what the heck

20 year old port - a fabulous present from U

Chatting with Mo about East End stuff - like Monkeys and Ponys (£500 and £25 respectively) - and jazz

A jog in Camden and Islington cemetry - peaceful and a good reminder why to stay fit

Two cracking goals by Jermaine Defoe - a solid 2-1 victory over Villa watched from some decent seats low in the East Stand of White Hart Lane with D

Reading The Woman in White on a cold winter's night in bed

Drawing title sequence images for Casino Royale with the enfants terribles

Watching the Marx Bros (Horsefeathers) with them schticking themselves

Chatting to Seth and Deirdre, over from Rostrevor for a few days - including about my idea for a dyslexia centre at the library

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Breaking up - Today's Happiness Experiment entry

Getting my haircut with Chris - first afternoon of the holidays chat

Unpacking my records and music after moving back into the house - enjoyed listening to Kate Bush's take on Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing as well as one of our Christmas albums, Go Tell It on the Mountain by Blind Boys of Alabama (with guest appearances by the likes of Michael Franti and Chrissie Hynde)

D's delighted reaction at the Christmas outfit I bought him during my wander, after finishing work for the holidays, around Covent Garden including a moment at Seven Dials that felt like being in a musical

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Shooting Peeps - Today's Happiness Experiment entry

Making a birthday invitation for D - each year a new design approach and a surprise for him

Chatting with the ever enthusiastic Jess Search of Shooting People over a cuppa

Hearing about the on-going success of Chris Waitt whose talent I've been championing for three years now - he's a gifted performer, writer and director of comedy as demostrated in his Ninja Love film for Channel 4's IDEASFACTORY (soon to become 4Talent) as well as his wicked Fur TV pilot - at last the breaks he deserves are coming...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cranking Up to Christmas - Today's Happiness Experiment entry

Watching D as an angel in his nativity play - he was so delighted to have us both in his audience, beaming

Chatting to U at dinner

Listening to Michael Franti on the way to the Channel 4 Christmas party at Camden Lock - the songs from Yell Fire he performed last week at Shepherds Shite Bush Shite Empire

Chatting to D on the phone - one of our first really substantial phone chats (during which he [age 6] used the word "laminate")

Moderating the Street Style site - a couple of gems in there among the club blah

Chatting to Rob Bevan and his Mrs (Philippa Watson) at Illumina's Christmas do - on the 10th anniversary of our MindGym collaboration

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Suburban Saturday - Today's Happiness Experiment entry

Saturday afternoon snooze with Any Questions in the dim distance

Walking and talking with PJE QC - plus a tour round his done-up house near Parliament Hill

Watching N get his purple belt with an outstanding kata

All the Rage

Seems like Simple Pleasures are all the rage at the moment - I keep coming across a tag message doing the rounds asking people to list ten of life's simple pleasures and then tag ten friends. I like parlour games as much as the next Victorian but there's something about too easy formats that seems to diminish what they formularise...

Here's how it tends to appear (this from a 19 year old Virgoan from Vermont):

Name 10 of life's simple pleasures that you love most, then tag 10 people. Try to be original and creative and don't use things someone else has used.

And here's how she concludes:

and...i tag... people... i guess... lets see...
and... whoever else wants to... i really dont care

Royal Family

Just finished watching Stephen Frears' film 'The Queen' - well made and moving. Reminds me of two times my path crossed royalty.

When I saw Princess Diana at the premiere of 'Hear My Song', Adie Dunbar's movie, at the Odeon Marble Arch. Old Joseph Locke got up on stage and sang Danny Boy to her.

The other occasion was when I met Prince Phillip at a Barnardo's conference at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in Westminster (The Wife's Conference Centre for him i guess). I knew, even when he was right over the other side of the room, that he was going to come over to me. His yellow teeth would have been stinky on anyone less rich. He asked me what I was doing there, I explained I made films for Barnardo's. "Do they pay you properly then?" he asked.

The Queen I've only ever seen when I walked onto Fleet Street one day only to see the whole royal family drive by on their way back from Saint Paul's from some kind of memorial service.

I remembered, watching the movie, being in Nevers in France when Charles married Diana and not being bothered to watch the wedding, which surprised my French hosts. I had republican tendencies even at that tender age.

The night Diana died I had been at a party at Maggie O'Kane's in Tufnell Park. I heard the sad news at around 5 in the morning on the radio in my bed at 19 Carleton Road - where, the following week in the living room I watched the funeral procession leaving London through Hendon and my childhood manor. When I went back to Maggie's house the next day to pick up something, her husband, also a Guardian journo, already had a conspiracy theory. That's journos for you.

It must have been that Sunday we were in town, lunching at an Italian restaurant in Covent Garden, when I read one of the Sunday papers, the Mail i think - inside was the usual critical stuff about Diana (less topical, feature-type pieces), in direct contrast to the breaking news on the front which was already canonising her. That's journos for you.

As Blair says in the film, she made a lot of people happy. And she did a lot of good. So I suppose it's good to have those strange days captured in this film. Those strange days when my Irish Republican sister-in-law went down to the sea of flowers at Buckingham Palace.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tranquility - Today's Happiness Experiment entry

Stroking the snoring Tommy Boy (our cat)

Lunch chat with the like-minded Peter Grimsdale, formerly of Channel 4 and Yahoo, and soon to be thriller novelist over a wonderful glass of 30 year old sherry - what was i doing in 1976? Playing space invaders down the street from Foyles.

Watching Stephen Frears' 'The Queen' in our revamped, oak-floored front room - that lovely Friday night tranquility. Where was i when Princess Diana died? In my bed at 19 Carleton Road, in the wake of the party at Maggie O'Kane's place.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bounci Franti

Bouncy is the word that characterises Michael Franti. Grooved to the Spearhead vibe last night.

A performance as good as the venue was shit - the Empire Shepherd's Bush, the Evil Empire, strong candidate for the worst live music venue in London.

If they could organise the proverbial piss-up in a brewery, they'd charge a fortune for it since a small bottle of water costs £1.99. But they can't even organise a cloakroom - it quickly ran out of space for people's bags and stuff. The bouncer was some kind of Oddjob evil mute mother. You can't find out when the performance begins because they never answer a phone or an email and haven't the brains to publish the information on their cack website. So a venue not fit to have the great man's sneakers on its stage.

Last saw him at the Festival Hall, a model of fine design and materials, and before that at the Jazz Caff, an amazingly intimate venue with none of the shabbiness of the Evil Empire.

So search engines I invite you to find this: Empire Shepherd's Bush Cack Empire Shepherd's Bush Cack Empire Shepherd's Bush Cack Empire Shepherd's Bush Cack

Glad I got that off my chest...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Cranking up to Christmas - Today's Happiness Experiment entry

Jogging in St Pancras and Islington Cemetry - the overgrown parts in the woods at the far end

Visiting Church Farm museum, Greyhound Hill, Hendon with N

Delirious radio listening

Finishing Robert Harris' Fatherland.

A long lunch at Roast in Borough Market with Charlotte Black, Steve Moore, etc.

Reading in bed with D and N

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Quel Coincidence - Today's Happiness Experiment entry

My first view of FilmFour (now I'm reunited with my Freeview box) - auspiciously Powell & Pressburger's A Matter of Life + Death

Weird coincidence of bumping into Madeline Holt (BBC Newsnight Arts correspondent) after JRT mentioned her name this morning after years

Walking past the spagnum bog by Kenwood and into the late autumn woods...

Laughing with N + D over the designs on my sweatshirt - box fish with red scarves and darting tongues


D (age 6) asked me who made up all the words, God? I understand what 'the' means but why that word? So basically the (dyslexic) kid's tapped into the heart of linguistics all by himself...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Coming home - Today's Happiness Experiment entry

Our local Italian caff (the green one)

My digital radio in its wooden box - Friday radio: Desert Island Discs, Question Time, etc.

Moving home - the delights of Lellow House

Happiness Experiments in the news #2

Further to the posting 'Happiness Experiments in the news' below here are a couple of lovely messages I received this week:

Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP, ACC
Goal-Setting & Performance Coach
The focus of the article in 'Happiness Experiments in the news' posting

"Love your blog! Yes, this happiness exercise is getting around if you know the research, so I’m thrilled it’s catching on all over the world!

Good luck with your continuing entries – very inspiring!

And this one from Carol Craig, inspirer of this blog/the Happiness Experiment:

"I had a read and found your blog very useful. We'll put a link to it from
somewhere on our site. Have you had a look at our Positive Psychology
Resources? Tons of material. Navigation is not great at the moment
and is about to be improved greatly. You can access it from the
Centre's home page Glad you found my comments useful.
Best wishes