This is not her first manicure and I’m 100% certain it won’t be her last, but it’s her fanciest so far:

Update: I’ve just been informed that this was her first manicure in the sense that she sat in her own chair and had her own lady attending to her (earlier caveats still apply).

Michael Jackson and kids (no, not like that)

The lad likes listening and singing along to a lot of music, which is great. He has he run of iTunes and knows his way around YouTube, with only a few restrictions. He seeks out mainly British indie stuff via his Dad (me), but also the Beatles, some Motown stuff, including Michael Jackson from one of his friends, although mainly Beat It and Billy Jean era, i.e. Thriller which is exactly 25 years old (gulp). Seeing videos and pictures of him from the 1970s, ’80s & ’90s, he raised the inevitable question of why his face changed color over that period, something he currently puts down to him getting older and a spot of make-up here & there. Ahem!

Anyway somehow he’d heard that Jackson had been arrested at some point (though, of course, acquitted eventually). So, naturally, the other day he asks Mom, ‘why was he arrested?’ Mom thinks quickly, bearing in mind the audience and says, ‘Taxes.”

The next day he asks Mom for a clarification, “why did he get arrested because of his taxes? What did he do?” His little sister, in earshot, interjects, “what did he do, did he jump on the taxi?” “No, not taxi,” he explains, by way of clarification, “his taxes.” “Oh,” she says, content with the explanation. He must be one of the most complicated artists to explain to your kids.

Chess update

So the lad played in the Greater New York Scholastic championships last Saturday, his second tournament and this was a long one!

He spent the whole day in the the New Yorker hotel – he was there from 9.15am to 6.45pm, played five games, (as did everybody).

And although he lost his first three he rallied and one his last two, which are the first games he’s one in a tournament setting, which is great for him. Here he is setting up for his 4th and 5th games, note the encouragement being provided by his sister in the last photo (all taken on my phone, hence the quality, but click to enlarge).


In the wake of Bobby Fischer’s demise, it’s clearly time for a new American grandmaster to emerge. And so with that in mind (well not really, he enjoys it, so we encourage him, it’s that simple), the lad participated in his first competition yesterday. He didn’t win a game, but he drew one, but no matter.

It was a big competition – 200 kids crammed into the gym at his school, which hosts a lot of these and has chess as part of its curriculum. Next competition, this coming Saturday!

Here he is warming up with his mate Rocky:

And here’s a few taken by the official photographer, as parents aren’t allowed in in case we flash them some signs, though I can’t teach him much about chess he doesn’t already know.

The holidays

So it was quite a long time spent in the UK and quite packed. Among the highlights:

The kids went to their first panto – Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs at Wimbledon Theatre with their cousin Charlie, and all loved it…. Alvin & the Chipmunks was checked off the list (thanks to Uncle Rob!), while Mom & Dad went to see Fulham lose to Chelsea (maybe Alvin was a better option)… the week before all four of us sat through (perhaps the best description) Fulham’s draw with Wigan…two days before that the kids had met some of the players, last in the line was the American international Clint Dempsey, I urged the kids to tell him where they had just arrived from the day before, the lad went a tad mute at this point, but she edged close to the table and said quietly, in her cutsey voice “New York City,” which he liked. They’d had a bad day as the manager had been fired only hours before, we subsequently learned. Here he is talking to her, unfortunately out of shot:

The kids and Sally went to Paris for a couple of days to visit Uncle John and Thierry; it was supposed to be three days but was shortened by Dad’s inability to move due to a dodgy back.

And the highlight for me, at least through family connections (Uncle Brian is a retired forest ranger), Charlie & his mum and Miles and me ventured out in an old Land Rover on New Year’s Day evening after dark to feed the deer in Richmond Park. It’s not something the public gets to see, and was something I’ll never forget, driving the park in the pitch dark while Brian threw feed out to the deer as the clustered round us, waiting for their winter supplement.

Here’s a screenshot from the video that night:

Overall, Miles especially enjoyed being with his cousin Charlie, here they are in Hyde Park:

Lee Friedlander would be proud

OK, he obviously couldn’t care less! I’ve always liked his stuff and unlike his work, this was more or less accidental (and not as good, it goes without saying!). He liked his storefront reflection pictures, and this is one of those jewelry stores on East 46th St on Thanksgiving Day. It was taken after we left the Macy’s Day Parade in unseasonably warm weather.

A girl called Sarah

Well, that’s what she wants to be called these days, which gets a bit confusing if you know anything about our household. And her brother? Jason, it seems.

So adamant is she about this – and she does adamant very well -that when asked today on the streets of NYC what her name was, ‘Sarah,’ was the reply.

And here she is in Apple’s SoHo store during a brief moment of computer-induced solitude & focus during an ill-advised trip down there with her Dad on the Saturday afternoon before the NY Marathon (click to enlarge).

‘Why act like a tourist in the town in which you live?’ somebody should have said to me before we set out.

Lets Go Mets (please)

Say it ain’t so. Our New York Mets are now only 1 game behind the Phillies and in grave danger of snatching defeat from the jaw of victory having led the National League East since mid-May.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about….it’s too complicated to explain right now. But we’ll know where we stand by Friday, I’d imagine. Suffice to say, the playoffs without the Mets will be painful to bear in our house.

As Keith Hernandez said tonight, in these situations, “you put your boots on and go out and play”. Boots at the ready.


After a few sessions a driving ranges in Erie PA, Maine, and most recently in Shawnee, PA, the lad expressed a preference for another ball-meets-swinging-thing sport; golf. His hand-eye coordination is great and he takes to all games where there’s a ball to be hit. So we booked him into Chelsea Piers’ junior golf program for one hour each Saturday, which started yesterday.

They let the kids have at it in terms of hitting the balls fo the first half hour or so (after cautioning them abut walking forward and falling off the top deck on to the one below, naturally) and gave them gentle coaching. Given it’s one of those Japanese systems where the next ball pops out of the ground as soon as you’ve hit one, he couldn’t beleive his luck in not having to reach down and place one on the tee each time.

Consequently he started hitting them as if he was in a baseball batting cage, with the club starting from behind his head (not easy to do but he managed it), before the coach stopped by and suggest some changes. The parents were strongly urged not to coach, merely to cheer lead, despite my temptation to point out this very basic facet of golf, i.e. it’s not basball. Oh well, I won parenting points from the coaches.

The results were two fold, he hit a lot of balls in one hour, 370 to be exact [Update: that can’t be right, that’s more than one a second! the next week he hit about 220, which is more like it, but still a helluva lot! The machine the first week must not have been set to zero.]:

Plus he ended up being able to finish his swing like this (he’s hitting balls towards New Jersey on the other side of the Hudson):

I think that’s one of my favorite pictures I’ve taken of him among the many thousands, despite its low quality due to it being with my phone. He’s a quick learner.