Diary: February 2019

This month’s diary includes… a close encounter of the underwater kind, a meeting with the Rotary Club of Gants Hill and a night out at Hackney Roots

For some reason, all the pictures are missing from this diary.

Saturday 2 , London
I used to remember my dreams, but not so much since I was visited by You Know What.

Saturday 2 , London
Séan and Jane were grabbing the air in front of them at the 3d Imax screening.

Tuesday 5, London
Film: Can You Ever Forgive Me? Absorbing, very funny and not a duff performance. Hard not to recall Withnail when Richard E Grant turns in one of his overcamp romps.

Saturday 9, London
Golden Lane Estate Jumble Sale in the community centre. We made £30.

Sunday 10, London
There is a lot of talk in the media of how the big two political parties are packed with internal conflict. Political commentator Andrew Rawnsley states in the Observer that their problems are a symptom of an old voting system that breeds tribalism. He urges reform. The piece made me wonder what British politics would look like if the parliamentary whipping system was scrapped and every MP had a free vote. Would this force political rivals to engage in a more meaningful dialogue and negotiate on behalf of the citizens they represent?

Monday 11, London
Film: If Beale Street Could Talk. A quite intense love story, beautifully played and photographed.

Thursday 14 , London
At Headway reading group today SD told us about his “psychopathic Irish girlfriend Mo” and the poor-man’s Valentine’s gifts he lavished on her back in 1989. Feet were among them. SD and Mo were so poverty-stricken that Valentine’s Day became an embarrassing reminder of their dire straits. SD says he got some old cardboard, made a box and in it he put small drawings of the things he knew Mo would like but that he could not give her: chocolates, bits of jewellery and the like. Mo suffered with her feet, so SD sketched a new pair of feet for her.

Friday 15, London
Brexit metaphors are all over the place, so I thought I’d give it a crack. The swivel-eyed loony Tory fringe are like six Premier League fullbacks refusing to play unless the offside rule is changed.

Saturday 16, Brighton
I just got a message from Facebook telling me I posted this illustration three years ago. I remember its origin. I’d read an inspiring article that claimed that the 21st Century would become the Century of Sharing. I liked the sound of those words. They had a ring, so I started to think how I might illustrate them.

I also liked the sentiment, the idea that a more caring, sharing society might become a model for future generations to aspire to, blah, blah. I’m writing this diary entry because yesterday thousands of schoolchildren in Britain went on strike to protest our government’s failure to tackle climate change.

The sharing symbol/pictogram from internet browsers I ended up using was a shameless act of theft. I do like it, though. It looks like a molecular model for water, H2O, which gives the concept a natural, elemental flavour. In the studio, I later created a sculpture of this idea with three plastic footballs from Poundland, two cardboard tubes, some scrunched-up newspaper and a lot of Modrock. I painted each of the balls red, green and blue (RGB).

In the sculpture, the concept shifted to a more political one. The two satellite balls were each marked MARKET and STATE. The central core ball was marked SOCIETY; the idea being that Market and State can only communicate with one another by journeying the length of the ‘bond’ to and from Society. Society is thus the key to a better world. Everything must pass through Society, so build a good one that can handle the different types of traffic. Stupid, eh?

Sunday 17, Three Bridges
Is there a New Barbarism gaining ground, just in time for post-Brexit Britain? A nation of civilised people and white savages?

Monday 18, Liverpool
RIP Sylvia, aged 91, at Holy Trinity Church, Breck Road and then at the Richmond Bowling Club.
What if … across the political spectrum, MPs simultaneously resigned their party’s whip and united around a Deal Us In coalition to secure a fruitful future relationship with the 27 countries of the European Union?

Tuesday 19, London
An unusually shaped Plane tree outside the British Council, Trafalgar Square. Planes are normally trimmed for upward growth since they pump tons of life-giving water and oxygen into polluted city centres. This one has gone all horizontal.

To the Mall Galleries off Trafalgar Square to see the British Life Photography exhibition of those recently awarded prizes. Included were three by Paul, one of them, from Brighton beach, in the ‘Rural Life’ category.


I finally got to meet the Rotary Club of Gants Hill. I won’t pretend it was a long-held ambition. I was there, at Kanchans restaurant, with fundraiser Rosy from Headway and we were on a mission to secure some kind of donation. Four women, four men, they were charming and showed genuine interest in our pitch. I didn’t tell them that last Thursday, in preparation, I had discussed their organisation with SD at Headway. We noted that the Rotary Club logo is a wheel with six spokes and 24 cogs. We didn’t quite know what to make of that. It wasn’t exactly a Satanic code. Not that we could see, anyway. When SD pointed out that there were 5 gaps between the spokes, our imaginations quickened, but only briefly. I think it might just be a wheel. I sat in a Turkish coffee bar called Gold’s for half an hour before the meeting, sipping camomile tea and reading the introduction to ‘Theft by Finding’ by David Sedaris. A Turkish music TV station was playing in the corner throughout. In preparation, I also had this about Gants Hill up my sleeve: “The name could have originated from the Le Gant family, who were stewards of Barking Abbey. The name Gantesgrave appears in records as early as 1291. Alternatively, the name may be derived from ‘Gnats Cross’ in reference to the insects.” Named after a transposition error, that’s quite cool.

Wednesday 20, London
This just popped up on Twitter.

Thursday 21, Hackney
Here is bit of promo text I did for Michelle flogging a collaborative piece called ‘Love London’.

The heart of London is big and generous and full of love. It beats strongest when its people do their daily dance to the city's sounds. Its smells never fail to entice. Its rhythms guide us powerfully through every step we take. We instinctively feel the warm throb of the metropolis and slip easily into its hustle and bustle. From north to south, east to west, the London we know and love is above all a creation of its people. They come from all over the country and from across the globe in search of London's passionate embrace. They yield to it and give their hearts back in return. This collective work celebrates that beautiful relationship, of London and its people and the partnership they have forged to make our city the envy of the world.

Saturday 23, London
We went to a Headway/Hackney Roots fundraiser last night in Chats Palace, a community centre near Homerton Hospital. Members of Headway Music Group performed with jazz entertainers the Grand Union Orchestra.
They had a showman trumpeter, Claude, who was good at engaging people, a young hip dude on a very cool semi-acoustic electric bass guitar, a very senior citizen on trombone and electric piano and a senior saxophonist who Jane said resembled the Lady In The Van. A smirking drummer completed the line-up.
It was an enjoyable evening, mostly because so many Headway members turned up, either as performers or spectators. Seeing them out in the real world having fun was a joy. The event probably didn’t raise much money but it momentarily elevated Headway members from their daily struggle with brain injury.

Check out @HeadwayELondon’s Tweet.

Monday 25, London
Keith has just pointed out on Instagram that this drawing I posted was a bit phallic. I honestly never noticed until now, but he is dead right.

Tuesday 26, London
I’d forgotten how sensual this film is. Lots of acting with the eyes and lots of touch. Even the sound is powerful, the soft piano, the waves, the rain, the squelching mud, the tribal noises.

Thursday 28, London
Here are a couple of digipix I just found, which have been hidden for ages.

Plus a marketing idea, which I might use as a poster for my birthday party in August.

● Read my March Diary.

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