A notch above a monkey

The books I read in 2019

The last catalog post in the series of what occupied me last year, but this one has a lineage. I’ve been writing about the books I read annualy since 2009. I was young back then.

Links still lead to Smile Amazon. Those without them are not terrible (like previous years), just without an entry there and I was too lazy and tired from hiking to find a different link. Book titles are in the languages in which I read them. I recommend those in bold. Those wanting to improve their focus may want to check Deep Work.

The list:

  • Securing Angular Applications by Ryan Chenkie. While it covers all important bits it is too full of unrelated fluff and could be edited to a quarter of its length. Best for those new to Angular and web development.
  • Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life by Peter Godfrey-Smith. I love this book, but not everyone does. A fascinating look at development of intelligence and cephalopods for those interested in both and I was not bothered too much that author occasionally wanders a bit.
  • Security and Frontend Performance: Breaking the Conundrum by Sonia Burney & Sabrina Burney. A short focused book on improving website's security and performance mainly through better use of HTTP, improving delivery of 3rd party content and use of service workers. A bit aged after 2 years, but still provides a good overview for those using 3rd party resources.
  • Chess by Stefan Zweig. A novella about chess, human need for stimulus and psychological torture.
  • Schachnovelle by Stefan Zweig. Same as previous one, except without minor translation errors. Figured out I could read it in original German and liked it enough to do so.
  • The Arab of the Future 3: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1985-1987 by Riad Sattouf. Third part of trilogy that will have at least 4 parts. Highly recommended for those who liked first two.
  • My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. A crime novel by a Nigerian author about two sisters, one of which with a penchant for dead now ex-boyfriends. Not my usual fare, but I enjoyed this quick-to-read book a lot.
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Recommended by Tomaž. I was not bothered by it being somewhat predictable, as I don't think author generally tried to or needed to surprise reader, but I think the book would be better if author didn't use future to somewhat sentimentally resolve some narrative threads. Otherwise well written engrossing story with rare off note and I really enjoy reading it.
  • The Train Was on Time by Heinrich Böll. A German soldier boarding a train to the front in Poland has a premonition of his impending death (train ride not incidentally following route of millions of European Jews). A meditative mostly first-person account on war, life, loss and historical disgrace. The kind of book that changes you.
  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. I'm ambivalent about this book since I am definitely in its target market, think it has some solid advice and writing itself isn't bad. However, I also mind that much of it is poorly sourced or supported, some clearly coloured by author's prejudices (matching mine) and all of it too closely shaped as self-help genre these days demands.
  • Springtime in a Broken Mirror by Mario Benedetti. A book about a political prisoner in Uruguay and his family in exile written by Benedetti when he was, too, in exile. Wise, witty, moving, profound book is certainly one of the best I read in the last decade and deserves to be read slowly and more than once.
  • The Beautiful Summer by Cesare Pavese. A short novel about a girl’s loss of innocence in 1930’s Turin. Another take on a familiar story which is neither good enough to recommend nor mediocre enough to complain. Translations occasionally felt dated and to me difficult to understand.
  • Becoming Functional by Joshua Backfield. “...in Java move to Scala.” OK, but with annoying boss examples and cumbersome language pick.
  • The Little Failure by Gary Steyngart. Generally not a fan of autobiographies, but I read this one because I like his writing and do not regret it. It is not only a seemingly very honest assessment of his life, family and relationships so far, but it also provides an interesting view in being Russian Jewish immigrant in USA.
  • Functional Thinking by Neal Ford. Similar to Becoming Functional with more emphasis on how to think “functionally” then what functional programming is. Also very focused on Java developers and diluted by involving too many alternatives and not enough focus. Still, better than Becoming Functional.
  • Functional Programming in Python by David Mertz. A short introduction to functional programming with Python3. Liked it better than the other 2 as it felt more on point. Again wished it touched also on architecture parts of development.
  • Node for Front-End Developers by Garann Means. Read to kill time on a flight since it is already very old (2012). Basic enough for examples to mostly still work, but not sure who the audience is. Useful information could be condensed to quarter of its already meagre size.
  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. A dramatised story about last woman to be executed in Iceland, picked while we were there. I got progressively more interested and by the end could hardly put down this well written story.
  • Levels of Life by Julian Barnes. A book about finding and losing love, especially tragically by the author. Or as Independent put it better: "Anyone who has loved and lost can't fail to be moved by this devastating book."
  • Running Blind by Desmond Bagley. I rarely read crime novels, but I enjoyed this one visiting so many Icelandic tourist spots. Written well enough and certainly surprising enough to keep my attention until its end.
  • A Cat, a Man, and Two Women by Junichiro Tanizaki. A novella about a love triangle with a true feline rival. Enjoyable.
  • The Lady and the Little Fox Fur by Violette Leduc. Almost poetic and most truthful description of poverty and loneliness which demands to be read slowly as every sentence is rich with meaning.

I expect 2020 to be busy so I’ll be happy if I manage to read as much as passed year. I hope to keep my fiction and non-fiction selection varied and keep trying to avoid Anglo-Saxon authors.

This year I enjoyed almost everything I read purely for my own pleasure and almost nothing I read for work. My work-related reading will likely be directed by work circumstances and hopefully less frustrating.

Related articles

TV & Movies 2019

As said, this year I expanded my note keeping. I’m also recording TV and movies I’ve seen and while I’m not sure if there isn’t a whiff of lunacy to the scope of my tracking, it can be useful, especially for multi-seasonal TV content to decide if one should give next season a go when it comes out. I watched a lot of TV and I mean a lot. I could despair about time I spent doing it if much of it wasn’t to relieve boredom of indoor exercise, there were better things to do or if I was snobbish about TV watching as such which I am not. However, it does make this post absurdly long.

I did spend comparatively little time watching movies. Ironically that was because they are longer and it is easier to fit up to an hour long chunks of content into exercise regimen or dying hours of a day. As blasphemous as this is to many directors, maybe I should watch movies in parts next year (except those rare few I still grudgingly see at local cinemas).

Shows and movies I most liked are marked in bold.


Of all the things that could be watched this year, Leaving Neverland had and will have by far the most profound and doubtlessly lasting impact on me and I didn’t even see it!

Every year there are shows on which I disagree with most critics. This year I was most bothered by gushing over Succession, which is well done but forgettable and poor reception of The Morning Show, which deserves more respect.

I was especially impressed by the first episode of Fleabag, mini series Chernobyl and all seasons of Rectify. I think they are all masterpieces.

  • The ABC Murders. I was at first skeptical about Malkovich playing Poirot, but he did the excellent script by Sarah Phelps full justice. Her changes to original material were substantial and not for Christie or Poirot purists, but have really elevated the material above a light evening entertainment. It is the only Christie adaptation I remember thinking about days after I saw it and could not recommend it enough.
  • Camping (Season 1). An odd and occasionally funny outing of mostly unlikeable characters that really goes off the rails in the last episode and makes you question why you bothered watching.
  • No Activity (Season 1). A US adaptation of an Australian show about two bored coppers on a stake out where nothing much happens. Uneven, but mostly funny enough for light entertainment.
  • Luther (Season 5). Luther was always also silly, but Neil Cross really stopped caring. The best I can say about season 5 is that it wasn't season 4 or Hard Sun and I could ignore nonsensical stuff most of the time. Still, no matter what happens to Luther in the future, this is the last one I'll see.
  • Inside Look: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, American Crime Story (Season 2). Did not expect to like or be interested in this one, but it was excellent. Versace's murder is used not only to show what happened to the famous designer, but also to explore and explain what led to it and how difficult it was to be gay.
  • Mrs. Wilson. Ruth Wilson plays portrays her grandmother in an extraordinary story about consequences of a marriage to a bigamist.
  • Friends from College (Season 2). Not well received second season of a show about a group of friends from college (hence title) of questionable character. Obviously not for everyone, but I liked both seasons.
  • Schitt's Creek (Season 1). A sitcom about a family of suddenly impoverished living in a town they own. Funny enough, but I've been told it gets better in later seasons.
  • Russian Doll (Season 1). A young woman keeps dying and reliving her birthday party while trying to figure out what is happening. Could easily be a tropey take on popular reliving a day theme, but is absolutely terrific in so many not always obvious ways. A must see.
  • Billions (Season 3, aborted). I liked first two seasons even with some reservations, but had to stop watching 3rd after 4 parts. Problems with script and to a lesser extent acting just became unbearable.
  • Catastrophe (Season 4). A decent ending to fantastic series that might not have reached previous heights (for good reasons), but that I enjoyed throughout.
  • The Good Fight (Seasons 1-3). Spinoff of The Good Wife with some improvements, but with the same unappealing female acceptance of male transgressions in first season. Gets better in second and completely absurd by the end of the third. For fans of the original series.
  • The Durrels (Season 1, aborted). Series made after a popular English book. Could not keep interest after 4th episode of the first season.
  • Shetland (Season 5). If you are a fan of competently done crime series, Scotland accent and moody landscape, then this is a show for you. I am.
  • Amy Schumer Growing. Comedy special for fans of Amy's humour. Not among best, but I laughed plenty.
  • The Romanoffs (aborted). Watched only the first episode of this anthology series. Waste of time.
  • Rectify (Season 1-4). Probably the most realistic take on life and life challenges after surviving death row. Profound, engaging and uninterested in cheap thrills. One of the very best TV series ever made.
  • Ófærð (Trapped) (Season 2). I liked the first series a lot and had great expectations for the second. It was fine at first, but script got more ridiculous as it was coming closer to the end. Still beautiful shots of Iceland's landscape, but not much to recommend otherwise for those not exceptionally gullible.
  • John Mulaney Comback Kid. Funny.
  • The Victim. A short drama series about aftermath of a horrible event, when a boy murdered a younger boy. Thoughtful, provocative and well acted. Not an easy viewing, but very worthwhile.
  • Back To Life (Season 1). A dark comedy about rebuilding life after 18 years in prison. Moving, funny and, apart from too long prison sentence, believable. Hope there will be a second season.
  • Good Trouble (Season 1, aborted). Awful, bloody awful. A rare miss from usually reliable source of recommendations. Ditched in the middle of the second episode because we couldn't stand the stupidity of it all anymore.
  • Dead to Me (Season 1). Liked it better than most critics. Would watch another season.
  • Veep (Season 7). Last season of a very funny show that had to work very hard not to become a documentary.
  • Wanda Sykes: Not Normal. Like most comedy specials best for fans of the performer which I am.
  • Chernobyl. A short series about the accident and its aftermath. The best HBO series in years and I cannot recommend it (and its official podcast) enough.
  • Good Omens. I love the book so I am ill equipped to judge this series, but book's fans should definitely like it.
  • Catch-22. Not so much an adaptation as it was inspired by the book. Probably this series can be alright for those who haven't read the book and should NOT be a substitute for reading it.
  • Enlightened (Season 1). 9th episode is a small gem, but I otherwise could not warm up to this highly regarded series. Maybe it would leave a better, more ground-breaking impression in 2011, but in 2019 its mostly odious characters really don't need this much time and space.
  • Fleabag (Season 2). A great follow-up to the excellent first second with the first episode a spectacular Pinter-like comedy drama deserving to be taught in film school.
  • Years and Years (aborted). Unexpectedly horrible to the point where we gave up after 2 episodes. Paper thin characters, speechifying, trying to touch so many issues it becomes a pale ideological satire of present. I have no idea how this can be Russell T. Davies' work and why critics like it.
  • Simon Amstell: Set Free. Funny.
  • Mindhunter (Season 2). Drama about development of FBI profiling. Second season is as good as the first one.
  • Succession (Season 1-2). A comic drama series of Murdoch/Sinclair/Redstone like family. Or as someone described it: HBO Billions. Fine in the first season, but much better in its second. Good, but not as great as described.
  • Unbelievable. A short series based on true events of catching a serial rapist. Excellently executed with respect to everyone involved in original events.
  • State of the Union (Season 1). A series of 10 minute episodes about a couple with marriage in crisis. Written by Nick Hornby. Opinions about it are divided in our household, but I liked all episodes except last one.
  • Better Things (Season 3). Hard to give a good short description of this series that is even more structureless in this 3rd season, but it remains being one of my favourite.
  • Criminal: United Kingdom (Season 1). A police procedural anthology series with 3 well written and played episodes, especially first two.
  • Gary Gulman: The Great Depresh. Another comedy special with Gary talking about his struggles with depression. Worth seeing.
  • Big Little Lies (Season 2). Not great as the first season, but fine. I do wonder what it would look like if they kept Andrea Arnold's vision.
  • Criminal: Germany (Season 1). Second part was bad, but not unwatchable as Criminal: France, the rest of it was very good with two stellar supporting role performances.
  • Grantchester (Season 4). Fourth series of crime drama for fans of sleuthing vicars in post-WWII England. As it ever was, but I've had enough.
  • The Deuce (Season 2-3). A three season drama about systemic exploitation of women and other marginal groups through prostitution, pornography and government/police indifference and corruption. Not an easy watch, but absolutely worth it.
  • The Crown (Season 3). New cast, same family. This time with less affection for people involved, but otherwise much like first two seasons. Meaning still a very good TV.
  • Les témoins (Witnesses) (Season 2, aborted). First series was great and second is like watching a car crash. I couldn't believe the same people were involved in creating a series that is even worse than the abysmal 3rd season of Line of Duty. Why in the world did I not give up sooner?
  • Mike Birbiglia: The New One. I worship in the church of Birbiglia whose every outing makes me want to become a writer. There is no better storyteller among comedians and his most recent show is no exception.
  • The Guilt. A fun to watch comedy crime series with unexpected ending that tests those who like moral or just endings.
  • Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby. Funny. I especially liked the part channeling his wife.
  • The Morning Show (Season 1). Underrated show about TV morning show examining #MeToo revelations and its consequences on all. Less flashy but with more depth than better received Succession.


There were few real duds this year and a few movies I really liked, but the one that I keep thinking about is Portrait of a lady on fire. It is rare I see a movie which cannot be moved to a different art form without losing some of its magic.

  • Manbiki kazoku (Shoplifters). A bittersweet story about a family of misfits trying to survive on margins of Japanese society with help of small crimes and contemplation of what constitutes a family. Not a mood lifter, but one of the best films I've seen in last year.
  • The Favourite. Drama often mislabeled as a comedy because of comic bits about life of Queen Anne. Absolutely must see even if you don't care one iota about Anne.
  • Den skyldige (The Guilty). A Danish thriller about a police dispatcher receiving a distress call with nothing but his phone, wits and police database to go on with to genre befitting twists and turns. Wholly well done and definitely recommended.
  • Vice. A movie about Dick Cheney's rise to power with an almost distractingly good performance from Christian Bale. Well made and certainly above a typical biography and I enjoyed the movie greatly.
  • Widows. More drama than a thriller about a group of robber widows organising a heist. Steve McQueen and Gillian Flynn raise the movie above normal genre fare without sacrificing any of the thrills.
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Rewatched it after a long time and can still be enjoyable if one can get pass Ferris' obvious psychopathic traits.
  • Post Mortem. A movie about a shy Chilean clerk falling in love with his neighbour during 1973 military coup. Good movie, but not an easy watch.
  • Wine Country. An addition to comedy genre of group of friends celebrating birthday on a long weekend trip. Fairly formulaic and mostly for fans of people involved.
  • Phantom Thread. A well produced and acted character study of broken unpleasant people. It kept my interest for 2 hours, but did not left me with any lingering thoughts.
  • Frygtelig lykkelig (Terribly Happy). I feel like I've seen this noir thriller before. My wife was disappointed, but I thought it was OK.
  • Office Christmas Party. I did not dislike this movie as most seem to even though it can be really ridiculous. Kate McKinnon is a comedic goddess.
  • Booksmart. This movie deserves a better trailer. It's a very funny and refreshing take on a known end of high school formula. Certainly one of the most enjoyable movies I've seen in recent years.
  • La Gomera. Another wife's disappointment and I can see how Gilda's part can be really grating, but I enjoyed it while watching even though its main idea is ridiculous on the first examination.
  • Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a lady on fire). Cinema at its finest. There's not a tone played wrongly in this love story and I hope to see it again soon.
  • The Souvenir. Movies do not get better reviews than this one and I have no idea why. I liked Hogg's Archipelago and Souvenir is certainly technically well done, but the story is pedestrian and has been better done too many times before and I couldn't find anything else to get out of this movie.
  • Ema. I've seen most Larraín's movies and liked all of them except this one. I got confused by focusing on the wrong thing in a crucial scene, but even with that it shows that parts of the movie were done without script as I found characters rambling off-putting. It's still Larraín's movie so not without merit, but I was still overall disappointed.
  • The Accidental Tourist. The kind of movie studios don't really make anymore. A story about life after family tragedy, end of marriage and new hope. Worth seeing.

Culture 2019

After I wrote my last annual review of books read in 2018, it occurred to me that it would be helpful (to me) if I also recorded other things I’ve seen or heard. So, I have also started jotting down exhibitions, plays and other events we attend.

These notes are probably even less useful to any one not me than those about books, but at least some exhibitions can still be seen at the time of writing (permanent collections and around the last fifth of the list).


I believe we visit on average about ten exhibitions each year. Various circumstances contributed to us seeing almost thirty this year, which will not happen again any time soon. We were lucky and most exhibitions we saw were at least interesting, many good and a few really amazing or even once-in-a-lifetime events.


  • Claude Monet (Albertina, Vienna). An excellent exhibition which happily did not focus only on Japanese bridge and water lilies. Probably most painting by Monet you could possibly see at one place outside of Marmottan Monet in Paris.
  • Helen Levitt (Albertina, Vienna). An interesting exhibition of one of the pioneers of street photography. What I found especially intriguing were strips of negatives that allowed visitors to compare selected and unselected pictures and how those presented were sometimes cropped. I probably am not the only person who would make a few different choices.
  • Niko Pirosmani (Albertina, Vienna). A small exhibition of to me unknown Georgian naïve painter who was an important influence on Chagall and Picasso (among others). While I was not enamoured with all presented painting, others made strong impression on me and I would love to see his paintings again.
  • Into the Great Outdoors (Leopold Museum, Vienna). An exhibition of mostly late 19th century Austrian outdoor painters and paintings. Apart from few exceptions it mostly left me cold and unimpressed.
  • Klimt-Moser-Gerstl (Leopold Museum, Vienna). I was not familiar with Gerstl who I think would do interesting work if he lived longer. I was also pleasantly surprised by Moser and Klimt part of the exhibition. Unfamiliar works and a new perspective gave me a new appreciation for both artists.
  • Bruegel (Kunst Historisches Museum, Vienna). A truly once in a lifetime experience. Seeing 4 out of 5 surviving months of the year paintings next to each other as well as both Towers of Babel were two highlights of a really exceptional presentation of the Flemish master. We could be there for hours more, but with just end of a day tickets available could stay only until we were thrown out.
  • Milton Glaser, Posters (MGLC, Ljubljana). A small exhibition of 35 posters made by Milton Glaser. Wished exhibition was bigger.
  • Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition (Somerset House, London). Any awards exhibition will show choices one disagrees with, especially when there are 800. It helps to skip reading often inane descriptions next to them. Still, I overall enjoyed the exhibition and more than I suspect I would the Deutsche Börse one.
  • Diane Arbus: In The Beginning (Hayward Gallery, London). I am not an admirer of most of her work, but this exhibition really helped me understand her historical importance as so much of modern photography I dislike (and sometimes like) was clearly directly influenced by her work. I feel I'd like it more if my experience wasn't already tainted by her less talented and interesting successors.
  • Don McCullin (Tate Britain, London). Having seen so many of his pictures I was still not prepared for this punch in a stomach. Moving, devastating and always humane and needs to be seen even when most uncomfortable. I kept wondering how he managed to survive decades of his work and the answer is he kind of hasn't completely. Echoes of human suffering are still present even in his recent photos of Somerset landscape.
  • The Renaissance Nude (Royal Academy of Arts, London). Wish it was a longer exhibition of development of the nude in 15th and 16th century art.
  • Pierre Bonnard (Tate Modern, London). Some people question if Bonnard was any good. Those people are idiots. His compositions alone, especially those involving people, were innovative, interesting and usually well executed. I care less about his landscapes which are just fine.
  • Dorothea Tanning (Tate Modern, London). Ashamed to say I did not know her before as her works in this exhibition blew me away. A feast for the eyes. I find surrealistic art difficult to interpret, but would love to know more about her personal family experiences.
  • Edvard Munch (British Museum, London). An exhibition worth seeing on Munch's development as a printmaker with more than 80 prints from Munch and artists that influenced him.
  • Jóhannes S. Kjarval: Can't Draw a Harebell (Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik). Exhibition of "floral" work of one the most important Icelandic painters. Fine, but not the kind of work I enjoy greatly.
  • Treasures of a nation (The National Gallery of Iceland, Reykjavik). An eclectic, often changed, mix of works from various Icelandic artists and the kind of exhibition where everyone can find pieces to enjoy. I certainly did.
  • Hulda Hákon: Who are you people? (The National Gallery of Iceland, Reykjavik). A retrospective of to me unknown artist. I am still undecided on artistic merits of her works, but they are certainly engaging and fun.
  • Permanent collection (Galleria d’Arte Moderna Achille Forti , Verona). Some very nice pieces in a collection of mostly 19th and early 20th century art that was shortened by an underwhelming photo exhibition.
  • Permanent collection (Museo di Castelvecchio, Verona). Again, a few very interesting pieces in a collection that requires affinity for sacred art. Worth seeing for the castle and architectural upgrades alone.
  • Gauguin Portraits (The National Gallery, London). While knowing a bit about Gauguin's life beforehand I still did not expect that the main take from this exhibition will be what an absolute swine he was. But not talentless which I think is especially obvious in his later works done outside of France. No shortage of good paintings and some great ones, but the ticket price was still exorbitant.
  • The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2019 (National Portrait Gallery, London). I thought there were a few very good photo portraits, but overall I found the exhibition disappointing. Most exhibits covered the same few trendy issues in a fairly formulaic way.
  • Leonardo da Vinci (Louvre, Paris). An amazing collection of works that could be presented better (e.g. IR reproductions next to the actual pictures with more guidance). I also missed more contextual information, but it was another must-see once in a lifetime exhibition. Event Vitruvian man showed up with its very own security guard.
  • Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life (Tate Modern, London). I was passingly familiar with him before, but now I might have found my favourite contemporary visual artist. A fantastic exhibition of few decades of work clearly inspired by Iceland that was sad, fun, full of wonder and never dull.
  • William Blake (Tate Britain, London). I still admire a lot of his works, but this comprehensive look into his whole life and work has also shown Blake could be lazy and mediocre when not interested in work he was hired to do. I wish curators of such exhibitions dared to be more critical, but enormous amount of works, many rarely accessible (such as one of only two existing copies of coloured Jerusalem) presented well, make it a must visit one.
  • Wildlife Photographer of the Year (Natural History Museum, London). A now annual visit to enjoy recent works and find amusement in often questionable background descriptions. Astonishing how much better wildlife photos got in just the last decade. I never fully agree with judges’ decisions, but there were few if any real misses this year and I'm glad we saw it. Still find it odd that exhibition merchandise is also made out of photos that didn't even qualify for the exhibition.
  • Anselm Kiefer Superstrings, Runes, The Norns, Gordian Knot (White Cube, London). 80% of modern art is garbage, but Kiefer's certainly isn't. Kiefer is not a happy optimist and exhibited works can be almost literally (physically) overwhelming. They are views into sins past and present, but visually compelling, even beautiful and I could not look away. I liked superstrings series the least, but still a lot.
  • Albrecht Dürer (Albertina, Vienna). I was familiar with Dürer's print work and knew Albertina has an amazing collection, but this exhibition was nevertheless a revelation of his talent and skill. He could do pretty much anything and his watercolour paintings are breathtaking. As usual team at Albetina excels at contextualising and explaining his work (unlike say Louvre) and hours just flew by.


Plays are something I only see in London because we visit it most often. I am rarely really disappointed even though or maybe because UK theatre seems less experimental than our own. Wish I wasn’t so (unreasonably?) annoyed by Slovenian acting.

In any case, performances we saw this year:

  • Betrayal by Harold Pinter (Harold Pinter Theatre, London). A play about infidelity and its disastrous consequences told in reverse chronological order. Wonderfully acted by all and especially Tom Hiddleston.
  • Three sisters by Anton Chekhov (Almeida Theatre, London). Not as good as Summer and Smoke was by the same team and difficult to enjoy when you are repeatedly reminded of unpleasant recent events, but nevertheless a good show solidly acted.
  • Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller (The Piccadilly Theatre, London). A phenomenal production and performance by Wendell Pierce, Sharon D. Clarke and the rest of the cast with many in audience moved to tears. Felt privileged to see it.
  • Translations by Brian Friel (National Theatre, London). Irish accent made this more difficult to follow and I would love to read the play, but it was unquestionably a moving and thought-provoking examination of language, communication and cultural imperialism. Splendidly performed by everyone.
  • Noises Off by Michael Frayn (Garrick Theatre, London). I rarely enjoy farces, but this one was hilarious. I haven’t laughed so much in a while. Cleverly structured in 3 parts, each building on previous, is funny almost without a pause and performed without a fault and exceptional timing by a great cast.


We rarely go to concerts anymore as they are simply too loud and crowded for me to enjoy, but we happened to stumble upon Bach’s St. John Passion performed at St. Martin in the Fields church while we were in London for Easter, which promised to be neither. I always had difficulty understanding sung words in any language, but especially German. Nevertheless, the performance was beautiful and while I wasn't too keen on Stephen Anthony Brown's evangelist take, it was certainly done well.